ADVENT IN THE BAPTIST BUCKLE OF THE BIBLE BELT
My roommate is Presbyterian and I was raised Methodist, so we are both familiar with the concept of Advent. Baptists observe the Christmas season, but do not necessarily observe the traditions of Advent. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas Day, and is intended for our reflection and anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Advent is celebrated starting the fourth Sunday before Christmas, so it started this past weekend. Traditionally, Advent involves a wreath with 5 cancles (4 royal purple and 1 white or 3 royal purple, 1 pink and 1 white). The first purple one was lit Sunday and the white one will be lit Christmas Day.
2 years ago, most of my roommate’s belongings were scattered across interstate 59 during rush hour because the truck that was transporting her belongings was hit by a bigger truck (and he had no insurance). 90% of my roommate’s belongings were gone, including all of her Christmas decorations (not to mention clothes, yearbooks, pictures, etc). This year, she has managed to replace most of her Christmas decor, including a grand artificial pre-lit tree. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, she decides that it’s time to replace her advent wreath.
Since we live in the Baptist buckle of the Bible belt, an Advent wreath has been difficult to find. Most of the responses we’ve gotten as we’ve gone from Christmas shop to craft store are, “Advent what?” I was about to suggest a trip to Cokesbury, a Methodist bookstore here in town when we got a positive response at Michael’s, a craft store near our house. They actually had the makings of an Advent wreath, at least the base with the four candle holders (the fifth candle is placed in the center of the wreath). Jene’ wasn’t sure she could decorate around this base so she opted for a plain wreath and some candle holders and a few berry wreaths to wrap around the candles. It’s a great wreath.
It never ceases to amaze me how people can take the holy days for granted… to not be able to at least try to participate in observing something that involves a belief bigger than themselves. As the word Christmas is reduced to holiday and seasonal and therefore Christmas trees are now known as holiday greenery to fit the occasion to the needs of political correctness, I can’t help but wonder how far down the true message of Christmas can be pushed before it begins to bubble up and boil over and explode out of the box people are trying to stuff it into.
Either celebrate Christmas or don’t. It’s that simple. Don’t try to change a celebration or holy observance to fit your secular agenda. Walk away from Christmas and spread your season’s greetings… just don’t try to change what has been for hundreds of years. Just because you change the name, doesn’t mean you change the true meaning of Christmas. Just because you refer to your Christmas tree as holiday greenery doesn’t change what it is — a symbol of the celebration of Jesus’ birth.