Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
December 5th, 2018 by Joel Watts

the Cure to Christmas Joy

This time of the year is rather difficult for many people. We have the holidays, especially in the US, bogged down in Halloween leftovers, pre-Valentine candy, and a mix of Turkey and reindeer. We do not get the time to truly enjoy the season.

The Church Calendar is not an arbitrary creation, but one that allows us to slow down and mark the time of the season by the life of the Church. We retell the life of Christ in our daily activities, pinned to seasons and tides. because some are not pegged to the Church Calendar, we skip right into Christmas where we are expected to be joyous and to spend lots of money on gifts for others. Maybe we should slow it down a bit.

Which is why I like Advent. Rather than Advent being a lag between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is a fast, a season of penance, a season of humble expectation. It is a time to remember the exile of Israel and toe tribulations of the Church. The People of God received the Messiah after centuries of exile and persecution. Yet, we skip the remembrance of that, a time when we could sit and dwell on life without hope, without a future, without freedom, into singing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Why is Jesus expected – why is He longed for – if He was only here to be born?

I sit with people who struggle during this time of year because what blankets us is an expectation to be happy? Advent is the time we can be mournful, because there is no joy unless we have suffered loss.

So take the time to mourn and to be depressed. Find a Blue Christmas service to join. Sit. Listen. Be still.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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