I am struck by the epistle reading for the first Sunday of Advent in which Paul exhorts his readers not to revel in drunkenness, debauchery, and licentiousness, nor in quarreling and jealousy. How untimely is that considering that’s pretty much what a lot of the holiday season is all about?
Isn’t it the time honored tradition of office Christmas parties to drink too much and do stupid things? Aren’t we supposed to get giddy and flirt a little too much at neighborhood gatherings? Don’t we earn bragging rights for eating too much, especially too much of those delicious calorie laden, artery clogging foods of our traditions? “Too much” is a badge of honor not to be trifled with, and, after all, it’s only once a year, and it is the holiday season after all, after all. And, if we get caught doing something we shouldn’t, well, it is the holiday season after all, and perhaps we had a wee bit too much to drink.
Why is Paul messing around with our traditions? Doesn’t he read the papers or watch TV?
Needless to say, we Christians don’t participate in that kind over indulgent frivolity, although we have to admit that our family gatherings, if there are any, can become a bit mired in quarreling and jealousy. Soberly, of course, but mired just the same. Not my family, of course, but probably yours. Sometimes it even spills over into our congregations where long simmering discontent erupts over disagreements about when and how to “green the church;” whether the annual whatever party will again be held since no one wants to be in charge, but everyone expects it to happen because it always has; where the creche will be put; when the children’s pageant will be held, and who Mary will be. Not in my congregation, of course, but probably in yours.
Get a life Paul! These are our time honored Christmas traditions. We will get more serious about cutting down on drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling, and jealousy in January. That’s what January is for. It’s tradition.