by Greg Singleton
November 11, 2013
A number of people have sent me good questions that predate the one for this week, but when I opened my e-mail reader this morning I found a compelling question that is time-sensitive, so I’ve moved it to the top of the list. I will get to those good questions still waiting over the next few weeks.
Q. I go a little nuts about this time of the year. It seems that Christmas has been completely taken over by popular culture and I think I’m turning into Scrooge. Any suggestions?
First, let me assure you that you are not alone. I don’t think I have ever gone through this time of year without having to contend with my Scrooge alter-ego. I keep that inclination from taking over (well, more honestly, from taking over entirely) by making a distinction between CHRISTMAS (the major Christian season starting in the evening of December 24 and continuing until the feast of the Epiphany on January 6) and KRIZMUZ (the orgy of consumerism and acquisition that spreads like an epidemic during the last quarter of every year)
It is common knowledge in our culture that late November places us well into the Krizmuz season. Long before Halloween, department stores and other temples of consumerism have decorations in place while we can still walk around in shirtsleeves. Advertisements in the newspapers and on television give us a continuous countdown to December 25. All of this proclaims that it is Krizmuz time, and we are encouraged to celebrate this season with abandon, using all of the cash and credit cards at our disposal.
It is enough to make one cry out, “Bah! Humbug!” But do not despair. There is a way to redeem this time and reclaim this season.
Contrary to common knowledge, the Church tells us something different. As we enter November, the readings for Sundays after Pentecost are filled with increasing anticipation. We anticipate the coming of Christ at the end of time as we approach the last Sunday after Pentecost, the Festival of Christ the King. We anticipate the remembrance of the coming of Christ twenty-one centuries ago as we prepare to observe Advent.
In addition to our Sunday gatherings for Word and Sacrament at Saint Luke / Logan Square (where we do know the difference between Krizmuz and the liturgical seasons), we have some other excellent opportunities to prepare for and participate more fully in the proclamation of our faith in the face of sales and commercial jingles.
There are some excellent resources for keeping a good Advent in our homes. Here are just a few:
And here are three communal antidotes to Krizmuz (there are others announced in the local press; watch for them):
On the First Friday of every month, several hundred people gather at 7:30 pm to sing and meditate at Ascension Roman Catholic Church, (815 S. East Avenue in Oak Park) according to the practice of the ecumenical Taizé community in France. Consider joining others from around the metropolitan areas and from many faith traditions on December 6 (Note: the January gathering is always on New Year’s Day—liturgically the octave of Christmas—at 7:30 pm. That is the only exception to the first Friday schedule.)
Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division Street in River Forest, will offer a Vesper Service on Sunday, December 22 at 3:45 p.m. As part of this worship experience will be Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata Meine Seel erhebt den Herren (My Soul Magnifies the Lord). This year, the Bach Cantata Choirs of both Grace and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke (1500 W Belmont Ave. in Chicago) will join together for this great Advent celebration. For a listing of other dates for the Bach Cantata series of both of these parishes, see:
On the first four Sundays of Advent (December 1, 8, 15 and 22) Holy Name Roman Catholic Cathedral, 730 N. Wabash Ave. in Chicago, will offer Vesper Services at 4:00 p.m., preceded by an organ recital at 3:30 p.m. This is a rich experience made richer by the leadership of the Schola Sine Nomine, a choir that truly leads the assembly in singing this prayer office. If you go, you most likely will not be able to refrain from swaying to the entrancing rhythm of a remarkable setting of “O Come Emanuel” at the end of Vespers.
So come and make a joyful noise in any or all of these venues, and on Sunday mornings at the church of your choice (and if you don’t have one, we’d be glad to welcome you at St. Luke / Logan Square). Join your voice with Mary as we sing “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” By participating more fully in this season of preparation, we will more gladly greet the new born king when we sing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Christmas, a season that begins on the eve of the 25th and continues for the next twelve days, will take on greater meaning in this context.