Advent is an Invasion.
Everything is beautiful this Christmas season. We even have snow on the ground in my neighborhood which is unusual this early in the year, but it really sells the Christmas lights lining the street and makes the holiday feel much closer. I drove home yesterday listening to the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album, musing about the spirit of celebration in the next several weeks. One of the lyrics of the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” snapped me out of my daydream of stockings hung carefully, playing Santa Claus, and watching Christmas movies with the kids. For some reason, the word “blood” made me realize how easy my celebration of Advent has become – far removed from the truth of its ultimate purpose. It was not meant to be a comfortable event; it was an invasion. It was dangerous — this act of God entering creation.
(Check out the Sufjan Stevens song here: http://new.music.yahoo.com/sufjan-stevens/tracks/come-thou-fount-of-every-blessing–37268990 )
An invasion is meant to secure territory that has been lost; possess landscapes that allow a force to establish control or maintain a footholdin some important place. My meditations turned toward the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan (not exactly a drive-by nativity scene). I also thought about C.S. Lewis’s representation of God in The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe: the character Aslan is described explicitly as “not safe.” So this “invasion” began 2000 years ago in a manger — and continues today in the hearts of men. As I hit repeat on the song, I considered for a moment the truth that there are many areas of my own life I have fortified against this God in a manger. And therein lies the truth of Christmas – the one that is too conveniently avoided. The idea that Advent is a comfortable celebration is an overt lie. I realized on my drive home that the meaning of this season is quite daunting. To celebrate Christmas is to expect an invasion, to open up that one place in your life (maybe it is the very one you don’t like to talk about) and allow it to be forcefully taken by the Creator of the universe. It isn’t comfortable…and it certainly isn’t safe.
(Originally PublishedDecember ’10)