Apostate churches across America start singing Christmas carols today. Joy to the World and Silent Night. And why not? ‘Tis the season. What better way to declare your allegiance to the American Religion in the great Christmas war than to sing Christmas songs at every opportunity.
Advent, though, is about learning to see the signs of impending apocalypse:
But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
— Mark 13:24-25
Apocalypse is a kind of writing that gets written when everything you know about the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
In biblical times images of creation literally falling apart conveyed the sense of mayhem, fear and dismay. And though those pre-scientific images of worldly collapse are not (and never were) meant to be taken literally, they are fitting enough for today’s degrading climate stability.
But what’s important about apocalypse is not the doom and sour grapes. It’s the confidence that all this is survivable — if you play your cards right and resist:
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
— Mark 13:28
Advent, therefore, is about watching for the moment when there is a sign, a crack in winter’s wall. It’s about the conviction that such a moment will come, that the forces tearing everything apart are too stupid not to eventually destroy themselves, that life will find a way.
Photo by rabiem22.