This Sunday the focus of our liturgy is all about the prophets— John the Baptist in particular— which doesn't make us immediately feel a lot like Christmas. In our culture, skipping over Advent to get to the warm and fuzzy parts of the season prevents us from understanding what Christmas is really all about.
When advertisers and media portray Christmas, they want us to feel good for a few weeks in December in order to make us more eager to open our wallets. Yet John the Baptist calls out to us: WAKE UP! Are we able to open our eyes and see that God wants to work through us to make Jesus flesh and blood right now in the world? Look around. How can we demonstrate kindness? How can we show mercy? How can we be living signs of Jesus by our presence in the world? Those are the things Advent invites us to think about.
That's why we highlight the "Advent Conspiracy" every year -- conspiring against the consumer culture that lulls us into a false sense of good feelings while spending too much time and stressing ourselves out.
This Advent remember: “love all, worship fully, spend less and give more.” Make time to use the spiritual practices of Advent to stop, wait, look and listen to where God is in your life right now. Pick up some of the prayer and meditation resources we have available on the Advent table. Give gifts from our alternative Christmas fair, and at the same time give to people who can be helped by your gift. Flashy gifts won't be remembered very long— give gifts of your presence to those you love— create an event that you can share.
The Prophets urge us to imagine the Kingdom of God as we prepare for Christmas to use the abundance of what we have been given to spread the good news of God in Jesus— the message of forgiveness, mercy, peace and compassion in a world that can use those gifts more than any other right now.