We just launched A 7-Week Advent with Stephen Smith For Individuals and For Groups. If your reaction to that title was to say to yourself, “Seven weeks of Advent? Why would they do that??” then please click on this link and listen to the song for a moment. Can you feel the pressure? This song is merry. MERRY. This song and others like it will be played at your at top volume during the month of December until you too become merry! Resistance is (or at least can come to seem) futile.
Nevertheless, a Christian trying to hold out for a contemplative Advent in December may be able to resist Andy Williams’ demands. Though the scents of specialty Christmas drinks may beckon, she may be able to turn her head away. She may pack the Christmas cookies given by her friends at the office resolutely in a cupboard until December 25 and hold her head high amidst the rustling of wrapping paper and the twinkling of tinsel.
But — most Christians do buy or make gifts for others for Christmas. Which means purchasing them or making them ahead of time. And most Christians do have a dinner of some kind on Christmas day. Turkey or roast beef. Christmas cake. Which means putting some energy into baking and cooking for it. Christmas trees are lovely, with their twinkling lights and carefully crafted ornaments. There’s no harm in decorating one a few weeks ahead of time. And what about those dear friends who invite you to come sing Christmas carols and drink cocoa? Before she knows it, even the most resolute, Advent-loving Christian can find herself wrapping presents and belting out “O Holy Night” with the best of them.
This hymn is quiet by comparison. Sometimes “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and the season it represents — the contemplative, quiet preparation for the coming of the Lord, a focus on our need for repentance– have trouble being heard over the din. The Advent season can be drowned out, even when we make our best efforts to stay focused.
For this reason, Stephen Smith’s congregation has become a part of The Advent Project and extended the celebration of Advent at their church to seven weeks instead of four. Advent, Stephen argues, is a season in its own right. It’s a time of holy contemplation and preparation, so why not start it a little sooner? Give it a few weeks to sink in before determined merriment and Christmas preparations start to kick in? At the very least, those three weeks allow for less rush and distraction as we celebrate Advent; at most, it gives people an Advent season that they otherwise won’t notice through the Christmas rush.
In this course, Stephen Smith outlines reasons and ways to celebrate the Advent season over a period of seven weeks instead of four. This course is ideal for Christians who are looking for new ways to celebrate a holy and contemplative Advent. For a preview, please click below.