Advent Devotional Dec 7: River

River by Jani Mitchell

 It’s coming on Christmas 

They’re cutting down trees 
They’re putting up reindeer 
And singing songs of joy and peace 
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

But it don’t snow here 
It stays pretty green 
I’m going to make a lot of money 
Then I’m going to quit this crazy scene 
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

I wish I had a river so long 
I would teach my feet to fly 
I wish I had a river I could skate away on 
I made my baby cry

He tried hard to help me 
You know, he put me at ease 
And he loved me so naughty 
Made me weak in the knees 
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I’m so hard to handle 
I’m selfish and I’m sad 
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby 
That I ever had 
I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

Oh, I wish I had a river so long 
I would teach my feet to fly 
I wish I had a river 
I could skate away on 
I made my baby say goodbye 

It’s coming on Christmas 
They’re cutting down trees 
They’re putting up reindeer 
And singing songs of joy and peace 
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

 I love Advent.  I love Christmas.  I love advent hope and anticipation, waiting and preparation, and there is no service all year long that I love more than an 11 pm candlelight service on Christmas Eve.  I also find myself capable of celebrating two holidays because I also love decorating a Christmas tree, putting out lots of cheesy decorations, and Christmas lights, and having stockings and presents.  There is a tie to them of course but I really consider these almost two separate things that are happening at the same time.

 And as much as I love it all… I have to admit it’s overwhelming.  We all know that Christmas is in the stores now starting in early October.  By the end of November Christmas is overflowing everywhere.  For a country whose largest growing faith is “no religion” and that is quickly become more secular than religious the month of December is a throwback to the days of assumed Christianity for everyone because it looks like EVERYTHING is about Christmas.

Now we all know this.  But what does this mean to the person who just isn’t in the mood to be over-whelmed with good cheer, and sing-songy carols, and pictures of families gathered around a fire, and the joy – joy – joy.  Where does someone whose life is lonely, mournful, and broken go to avoid the in your face blast of Christmas?

“I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”  We think Christmas is a celebration of great good news.  But what about those for whom Christmas is a reminder of what they do not have, and what they have lost, and what they will never have?  Do we make space, or even allow for a space, for those who just want to skate away from it all?

Advent is about hope in the midst of exile, expectation of promise in the midst of brokenness, the re-assurance of a dawn looming on the horizon of our dark night.  Yet when Christmas overtakes Advent that is lost.  In a culture that cannot abide silence we rush to cover it with loud noise.  In a culture where mourning is perceived as weakness we pretend we are always okay and need no help.  In a culture of quick-fixes and fast yields we cannot imagine waiting weeks that represents years of hope on the horizon rather than already realized.

And yet for some among us those culture norms cannot be met because the harsh realities of life preclude celebration in favor of the all too real sense of exile – from family and friends, from hope… and even God.

So as I hear this song it makes me ask how we make sure we do not lose Advent in the midst of Christmas.  That we do not celebrate so loudly we cannot hear the mourning, and that we do not allow the bright flashing decorations to blind us to those that are hurting, alone, and so clearly in need constant reminders of hope.  That we do not celebrate our now so much that we forget that we hope for more, we hope for peace and wholeness for all peoples and all creation.  And then that makes me go one step further… because I begin to imagine that really inside each of us that is true in some way.  Some part of us is crying to skate away from it all because we all are carrying a sense of loneliness, brokenness, and hurt.

The reason for the season is not simply the birth of the child.  The reason for the season is that WE NEED the birth of THIS child.  Allow this season to meet that need in you – give yourself the chance to mourn and yearn for hope… and also help extend that to others who share that need.  We don’t have to get rid of Christmas… but we cannot Christmas to the exclusion of Advent, we must make space for both because while we want Christmas – we NEED Advent.

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About Andrew Kukla

I am the proud father of four wonderful children, loving husband to Caroline, brother to three mostly wonderful sisters, and son of two parents that gifted me with a foundation of love and freedom. I also am a Presbyterian pastor and former philosophy major with a love of too many words (written with many grammatical errors and parenthetic thoughts), Soren Kierkegaard, and reflections on living a life of discipleship that is open to all the challenges, ups and downs, brokenness and grace, of a chaotic and wonderful life founded upon the love of God for all of creation.

Posted on December 7, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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