“Santa Claus is comin' and the kids are gettin' greedy
It's Christmas time
They know what's in the stores 'cause they seen it on the TV
It's Christmas time, it's Christmas time
It used to be the birthday of the Man who saved our necks
It's Christmas time
Now it stands for Santa Claus they spell it with an X
It's Christmas time, it's Christmas time...”
From Christmas Time by Larry Norman
This is the first song I think about every time Christmas seems to be running down the track before us. The Stockies start to listen to our Christmas playlists on December 1st. I immediately hear “Santa Claus is comin' and the kids are gettin' greedy/It's Christmas time.”
Usually the Santa Claus Christmas appears before we reach the Christian Advent Christmas. The first leaf is usually the stores piling the Christmas offers onto the shelves, the adverts starting on the TV and the far too early lighting up of Christmas trees in City centres.
And don’t get me wrong I love the Holiday Season Christmas. I like, even at 54, writing my Santa letter, at least filling a Santa check out at Amazon. I love Mince Pies. Forgive me, but I love Egg Nog Lattes in Starbucks. I love the warm and feely family closeness. I love Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody and Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. The benefits of being 11 in 1973!
In Advent sermons I am often warning my community in Fitzroy to separate the two Christmas templates. Enjoy both for sure I encourage but I also warn that the vital thing is to make sure that the Christian Advent influences the Holiday Season and not the other way around.
I am keen that we as a Jesus following community take a Lenten approach to Advent. It is important to find the spiritual discipline of this season and to take time to reflect on the Biblical story, to read ourselves into that story and to take the waiting time of Advent to surmise the state of our souls.
The Advent Scriptures are so rich and deep in meaning, in challenge and inspiration. Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, Zechariah, Herod, the shepherds and the mystical stargazers. Then, God born as a vulnerable baby, facing death squads and being scurried off to Egypt as a refugee. Goodness me!
So this Christmas, as the Holiday Season version hurtles forward, catching you in its slipstream and near throwing you over in its ferocity… breathe in… breathe out… and take time to surmise the eternal story of love and grace. God moved in amongst us. Surmise the long term connotations of this amazing truth so that, after the Seasonal one is put away for another year, we have the lasting impact of the Advent one on our lives and communities.