Monday, December 22, 2014

The Journey: Frozen!

By Rev. Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries

I love the Advent season. Yet over the years I have resisted the temptation to move immediately into the celebration of Christmas, ignoring the power of the Advent anticipation. I’ve softened to the point that I no longer become Scrooge between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hopefully maturing a bit, realizing it is not likely my voice of protesting the pre-Christmas urge would change much of an increasingly secular culture. Having confessed that, I still struggle to keep the time as sacred — a season which the early church laid out as a practice of preparation for the coming of Christ into the darkness.

Most folks today seem to know the four weeks of Advent as celebrating “Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace”; however, the ancient celebration was based on these four Sundays: Life, Death, Heaven, and Hell. Paralleling the season of Lent, the early church lived through these weeks examining what it meant to live in the darkness awaiting God’s promise of Light in the midst of that darkness. “Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace” have become our softening of an experience during which the early church understood the need to live in anticipation of God’s arrival in Christ.

What I am coming to realize in these years of my life is the tremendous educational challenge we face in our life together. While the celebration of the seasons of the church year are not the answer to a renewed deepening of faith, walking through the seasons does remind us of our own life journey. Missing that rich part of our worship life together is a sad reality lived out in several ways in today’s church. So much of the spiritual connection we moderns seek can be found in our Christian traditions that we have inherited from those who made the journey centuries ago.

Walking through a major retail store this past week, I noticed a new holiday music CD by Idina Menzel. Idina sings a variety of hymns and Christmas favorites, and includes a rendition of “Let It Go,” the smash hit from Disney’s movie, “Frozen.” While I thought the movie was a great addition to Disney’s memorable movies, the CD is being marketed as if “Frozen” is a Christmas song. Picking up the CD album, a young teen suggested that their church should sing “Let It Go” on Christmas Eve. When her Mom suggested it wasn’t a Christmas song, the teen retorted, “Yes, it is, otherwise it wouldn’t be on this holiday CD!”

While this seems rather insignificant, I wonder if we are permitting the culture to define for our young people, who we know are desperately seeking meaning and spirituality, the meaning of our Christian holy days because we have failed to bring along the symbolism, awe, and power of our own Christian traditions built upon the experiences of those saints who have gone before us?
Thanks for listening. Maybe each of us might take this Advent opportunity to share a part of the tradition with someone who might be looking for the mystery and power of the One who is coming among us.

May God’s blessing be with you and your loved ones this Holy Day season.

Grace & Peace!

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