Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas and Consumption

Kurt Nelson
Rollins Chapel, 12.4.11
John 1: 1-5, 14, 16

Advent is a season,
as today's scripture reminds us,
 of light and life and grace upon grace.
And there's much to love:
family gatherings.
lights shining in the darkness.
the end of academic terms.
But each year I watch advent unfold,
in our broader culture,
with a mix of horror, fascination, and despair.
In theory, this is a season of waiting.
A time of contemplation, and anticipation.
A time of delayed gratification,
A time to ponder the good news of the idea of God living among us,
and what that means for the future of the world.
But, of course, in practice
it’s not really a time for any of those things.
More than anything,
it’s a season for rampant consumption.
A season for Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays.
For frenzied arguments over whether stores should open at midnight,
the day after thanksgiving.
or  do the civil thing, and wait until 6 AM.
A time for constant advertisements
featuring bows on the top of luxury automobiles,
and joy
provided by electronics and jewelry.
fat men with large, white beards,
I try to avoid the commercials.
Try to sidestep the headlines from black Friday mobs,
and shopping freak outs.
But I can’t.
And so I watched this year,
as a pack of seemingly normal people,
screamed and pushed and clawed,
Fighting as if they had staked their very souls,
on the procurement of a cheap means by which to make waffles.