Jerome United Methodist Church has enrolled this year as a co-conspirator in a national movement to reclaim the celebration of Christmas from Cultural Consumerism. The themes for the Advent Conspiracy are to Worship-fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. As part of that theme, what follows is a skit I wrote for the lighting of the first Advent Candle.
Steve: As is the tradition in most churches, on this first Sunday of Advent, we light a candle on the Advent wreath to remind us of the hope Christ’s birth brings at this time of the year and all year long.
[Steve’s cell phone rings and he looks at the phone, looks around at others asking if it’s their phone, and then sheepishly admits it’s his.]
Excuse me, this is from a friend I’ve been trying to reach for a several days, and I’m really concerned about him.
Hey Frank, what’s up? No, it’s not really the best time. It’s Sunday morning — I’m in church. Is everything OK? Where are you?
What? You’re still shopping! Since Friday morning? You’ve got to be kidding me! Wait, that means you missed the game yesterday with the black and blue, I mean the maize and blue? Frank, come on man, there are no bargains worth 50 hours of shopping and missing the biggest game of the year. What were you thinking? [Pause to listen]
Whoa, hold on a minute – there are a lot of people here who aren’t believing this conversation. Let me put you on speaker phone so they won’t think I’m just making this up. [Pushes speaker phone button].
OK, now say that again, slowly.
Frank: [excitedly, over mic from off stage] You wouldn’t believe the fantastic bargains, Steve. We got a new 60 inch 3-D TV for half price and then of course we needed new furniture for my man cave so I can watch it in comfort. You’ll have to come over next week for the Big 10 Championship game! And Menard’s had all kinds of stuff marked way down for the improvements we’ve been wanting to do on our house. I can’t believe how much we’ve saved. And there are still great bargains left, too. You can’t afford to miss this. Can you cut the sermon short? How soon can you get out of church?
Steve: Ah, Thanks, Frank, but it sounds like you’ve done enough shopping for both of us. I still can’t believe you missed the best day of college football ever!
Frank: Oh, they had it on a hundred TV’s at Best Buy. Not a problem.
Steve: Whatever. I don’t think that counts. I am confused, though– all that stuff still doesn’t sound like it would take two and a half days to buy. Did you get Christmas presents for everyone on your list too? I mean that’s sort of what this crazy weekend is all about, isn’t it?
Frank: Oh, we’re just now getting to our Christmas list. Macy’s and Kohl’s had such great sales on clothes that we spent hours looking for things that fit. I think clothes sizes are running a lot smaller than they used to. My normal sizes just don’t seem to fit anymore. We didn’t even take time to go out to eat. Do you know Pizza Hut will deliver right to the dressing room at Macy’s?
Steve: No, [shaking head and rolling eyes] I didn’t know that, Frank. Is there an app for that? You know, I’m worn out just thinking about this. So where are you now?
Frank: Oh, we’re at Big Lots. We spent so much money on all those great bargains we have to cut some corners now on gifts for family and friends. I better get back to shopping, Steve, just wanted to let you know what great stuff you’re missing. [He hangs up]
Steve: That’s funny, Frank, I was just going to say the very same thing to you. You didn’t just miss a great game; you’re missing the whole point of Christmas! Frank? Frank? I guess he’s gone – I’ll have to tell him later what he’s missing—like the whole purpose of the season, don’t you think?
[Puts phone away and walks back to Advent Wreath] Wow! Do you believe that? I sure hope Jesus doesn’t get lost in all that stuff. I’m so sorry for that interruption. I don’t know about you, but after that, I think we need to pray. Please pray with me.
O God, remind us again that Advent is a season when we prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of the Messiah. It’s a time to worship and ponder the true reason for this season; to give thanks for all of your blessings. And one of the great gifts we receive from you, O God, especially at Christmas is the gift of Hope. Without hope, we cannot make it through the dark and difficult seasons of our lives. So bless us with your spirit as we light the Candle of Hope, in the name of the coming, present, living and Eternal Christ. Amen.
As I light the candle of Hope, please join in singing the first verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”