At the center of any society are its festivals. What you celebrate defines and manifests who you are and who you wish to be. They have both descriptive and prescriptive power. If you want to see what is important to a culture, don’t look at their work, look at what they take off work for. Look at the parades, the feasts, the holidays.
We see this in the Israelite feasts and festivals. God ordained yearly, monthly, weekly festivals for His people. We are gathered right now in continuation of the Sabbath: the festival at the heart of Israelite life. What and how we celebrate defines who we are.
This is why the Pride parades and the drag shows and the Juneteenth observances are big deals, because they are attempts to redefine a people. And it is also why the seasons of Advent and Christmas are so charged and fraught with temptation, because they are strategic points in the battle for the soul of a people.
So as we enter Advent and the Christmas preparations begin, recognize that you are entering the fray. The powers of Earth and Hell are arrayed against you, and they are subtle and crafty and have long desired this last bastion of Christendom to crumble. You may encounter outright persecution and snarling atheists flinging themselves at the walls, but more likely you will face subtler ploys, treachery and sappers under the walls: temptations to envy, to sloth, to sentimentality, to gnostic notions disguised as spirituality.
But your God has not left you defenseless. He has given you fudge. And hot chocolate and eggnog and some of the finest songs ever written and trees that stay green all year long, giving us token of the eternal life that is ours, and lights and savory meat and bright tablecloths and rich wine. In other words, our weapons are Gospel joy and hope and charity.
So get ye to battle, and above all else, resist the sidelong glance. You are brothers and sisters in arms defending an ancient fortress. Spur one another on towards love and good deeds, but don’t waste time envying one another.
Josh Edgren – December 3, 2023