Monday, December 11, 2006

Not yet Christmas

I like the season of Advent, the time of anticipation before the festival of Christmas. Christians in the United States have largely followed the commercial powers and principalities into celebrating Christmas early and have all but forgotten the accompanying season of Advent.

It's gratifying, however, to see that many bloggers have not. John Frye, for example, writes about Advent awareness in the USA, while in South Wales Richard Hall considers Advent, Mark 13:24-37, and hope. And Doug Floyd has composed a beautiful essay proclaiming that, while creation is fallen and violent, Advent reminds us peace is coming.

If you're a Christian who eschews recognizing seasons of the church, I recommed Dan Edelen's article on regulation, ritual, and remembrance:
I don't understand Evangelicalism's obsession with wiping out the past. In many parts of the American Church today, a flagrant disregard for what and who has come before us dominates all expression toward God. It's as if today's Christians must live in a self-imposed vacuum. . . .

Children grow up without rituals that root them to all of Christendom before them. Today's Evangelical children float in a secularized sea, cast there by well-meaning Christian leaders who employ "regulations" that denounce rituals or scry pointless contemporary "alternatives" to tradition. Is it any wonder that our children reach age eighteen and have no roots to keep them from being torn away from the Faith? How easy is it to depart from God when the experience of God one's been fed has been solely intellectual, tradition relegated to weepy-eyed emotionalism by people who rarely weep!
Whether or not you agree with everything Dan has to say, one thing is certainly true: if the church doesn't provide traditions for Christians, the world will.


Blogger Dan Edelen said...

Yeah, Milton, it's a tough call on ritual. We can erect a lot of dead rituals. But on the other hand, where is our discernment on which rituals are worth preserving?

Most Evangelical churches today create no memories in people. I was reading a comparison of Bible translations and one translator noted that the very popular NIV, while a decent translation, contained no memorable ones. The Phillips translation has the memorable translation of Romans 12:1 that starts, "Don't let the world press you into its mold...." The NIV, on the other hand, doesn't have many translation choices that grab you like that.

In a way, that's a warning for Evangelicals. Our very blandness may cause our brightest and best to leave. What a shame for us! And in many cases it's because we despise those "stone markers" God compelled so many of the ancient faithful to erect.

Just something for us to think about.

Blessings. And thanks as always!

12:52 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Dan Edelen said...

Of course, that should be Romans 12:2.


12:56 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in evangelical churches that placed ritual right after murder, adultery, and drunkenness so I had to work in Europe as a missionary to see the value of ritual. Now that I'm back in America, it is wonderful to practice the ritual of Advent candles and to preach sermons that proclaim the coming of Christ (both first and second) from Isaiah. Our hymnbook helped me out with responsive readings from Isaiah for each Advent Sunday. All I had to do was dive into the texts. Last year I did the same thing with Luke chapter 1 although it wasn't with the intentionality of this year's sermons.

2:37 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I'm with you on this, Dan. Thanks for the article.

7:42 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Mr. Talley: Thanks for sharing your perspective.

7:45 PM, December 12, 2006  

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