We know it’s Advent because we’ve just had Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As if we didn’t already know, it signals the final crescendo of shopping frenzy before Christmas, which started back in September — or perhaps before.
It’s amusing to note that, on Friday, the notoriously irreligious French rebelled against the hyper-consumerist materialism of Amazon, which they say reflects values (ie American ones) alien to French culture. This is deeply ironic, since the USA piously sees itself as the most ‘Christian’ country in the West!
The real meaning of Advent is to look beyond the things which do not satisfy (which consumerism doesn’t — it can’t, otherwise we wouldn’t want to consume yet more of what has never yet satisfied). And look instead for some deep truth and wisdom.
Advent is not a starting gun for the race to Christmas, nor a sign of the last lap of shopping frenzy, it’s an invitation to stop, rest and consider what’s important in life, and our world. It points to the coming of Jesus and God’s plan to reveal to everyone the way to life.
It’s called abundant life — but not a life weighed down by loads of stuff. Paradoxically, it comes about by steadily letting go of all the things our ego thinks we must have to survive, defend ourselves, and get ahead. And the Good News is, we don’t do it alone. Advent points to the coming of God in flesh — Jesus, “Emmanuel”, God-with-us.
We can invite him to come alongside us, and guide us on a new adventure of life. Some have called this “falling upwards”, falling away from our precious ambitions and targets, and falling into the arms of a loving, gracious God who lifts us up to the loving humanity we were always meant to be.
You should try it. Just take a little time each day between now and Christmas to give space to a new imagination of being.
One place to start might be with Taketime, where you can find an introduction to simple mindful practices. You can start with five-minute tasters and move on to longer imaginative meditations if you like. While all meditations are based on short stories about Jesus or told by Jesus, you don’t need to be religious or have any Bible knowledge to enjoy them. Go to taketime.org to find out more.
It’s free and no Amazon Prime account required.