Two more Sundays to Advent 1. In anticipation of this time of anticipation, I wanted to get some ideas about singing during the Advent season.
Advent and Christmas have been high-jacked by consumer culture. The shops are already being transformed into Christmas shopping Meccas, the shoppers are receiving leaflets in the mail advertising Black Friday, and the children are being bombarded with toy advertisements during Dora the Explorer and the Backyardigans. Once the shopping commences, the shoppers are enveloped with Christmas songs, 'I'll be home for Christmas', 'I'm dreaming of a White Christmas', even 'Joy to the World'.
The songs are heard and sung throughout what we Christians call Advent. And when Christmas day comes, the anticipation is over! Presents are given and received, food is consumed en masse, and the people rejoice. Not for Jesus sake, but for the presents' sake. 'We have what we want, now its over.' A great sigh of 'Now what?' can be heard across the land. Trees are taken down, decorations boxed up, and Christmas cds are thrown back in the drawer to be seen again in 11 months.
My question is this: In your Christian community, is Christmas day the culmination or the beginning? Does the anticipation that builds over Advent end on Christmas day afternoon with a great sigh of 'Now what?' It seems a great disappointment occurs on Christmas day afternoon when we let the consumer culture take over our lives. Could there be another way? Could Christmas BEGIN on Christmas day? Or is it doomed to be the END of the anticipation of Advent?
One way Christian communities have celebrated Advent and Christmas is by singing. How we sing and what we sing reflects how we anticipate Christmas and what Christmas day means. For Christians, Christmas day is not just a culmination of the Advent season, but a beginning of the Christmas season. Christmas day becomes the beginning of a celebration that lasts through January!
In short: Do you sing Christmas carols during Advent, or do you emphasize the anticipation of Advent by abstaining from singing Christmas carols until Christmas day? Furthermore, are the Christmas carols only for Christmas day and the Sunday following, or do they continue in celebration through January?