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Day Two

See? Advent is new for all us former fundies as my friend Will states here. Brand, sparkling new.

It’s embarrassing to me. Because it’s not like religion has taken a back seat in my life. It’s not like I never went to church or didn’t read the Bible. As a kid, I had a stack of Bibles in varying colors, sizes, and needs. If you include Christian school chapels and Bible classes, I was hearing a sermon every single day. How did I miss Advent?

We do have an Advent calendar, but I didn’t know there was any ecclesiastical significance to it. It’s a Playmobile one, and as we laid out each piece I completely glossed over the Advent wreath. “Oh, isn’t that nice? Hm. Candles. La, la, la, la!”Until they lit the candles in church two years ago. “Oooooooh! That’s what that thing is. It’s for Advent! I didn’t know that! Duh!!”

And I wondered what other really, really obvious things I was missing about Christianity because of my sequestered and Christ-less fundy life.

We humans have a need to connect to the past. We want to know that what we’re doing others before us have done. That’s why I hang my mother’s childhood ornaments. That’s why we look at old pictures and read history books and visit monuments. That’s why I make my grandmother’s soup.

And it’s no different at Christmas. We hear all the moralistic harangues about remembering the “Reason for the Season” and not writing “x-mas” because it’s crossing out Jesus and not saying “Happy Holidays.” And on and on and on. We love that hobby horse. It makes us feel so self-righteous. But when it comes to some ritualistic memorializing of Who we need to remember, it’s absent. Completely gone.

Because that‘s Catholic. And we wouldn’t want to be Catholic! Horrors!

So what do we fundies do? A lot of us go further back to Hanukkah. I did. I have a menorah sitting here next to the computer. I make latke like a mentsch. There are about a dozen dreidels kicking around the house and even some Hanukkah books. I have the apologetic “Jesus celebrated Hanukkah!!” defense on the tip of my tongue. I’m ready.

Now I admit that I have Elmo to blame for some of this. His Happy Holidays video got Isaac all jonesed to do Hanukkah, and I indulged him.


Interestingly, neither he nor I were tempted to celebrate Ramadan or Kwanza (Elmo’s other holidays) though. . . .

Hanukkah satisfied something deep inside me too. To connect to something ancient, to do something over a set of days, to remember, to light candles, to read stories, to feast, to be thankful, to worship God. That’s what Hanukkah satisfied.

I didn’t need that though. I didn’t need to look outside of my own tradition and foist a Christian-ish meaning on it. It was right there the whole time. The Whole Story was there!

Will points out that Advent is about remembering what Jesus has fixed, what He is fixing, and what He will fix and our participation in that fixing. Within the dispensationalist (fundy) ethic, however, fixing is not the goal. Utter destruction is the goal, so keswidispiecostals just opt out entirely. Why participate in something that will be replaced? We don’t need it, they reason. We’re good just as we are. Why fix anything when we’ve got this one down pat?

Nah. . . . I don’t see any problem with that one! /sarcasm

5 thoughts on “Day Two

  1. I also “discovered” Advent last year when I purchased Nancy Guthrie’s book of Advent readings, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. I grew up in Fundamentalism and went to BJU, so it was an entirely new thing to reflect on Christ’s incarnation and second coming in such a way. I loved it so much, I also read Scripture and books during Lent. This year during Advent, I’m following the Book of Common Prayer for my daily Bible reading and I have already benefited much from this time of preparation and remembrance.

    I liked your point about Hanukkah: “To connect to something ancient, to do something over a set of days, to remember, to light candles, to read stories, to feast, to be thankful, to worship God. That’s what Hanukkah satisfied.” When I was growing up we avoided religious traditions like lighting candles, reading prayers, and celebrating Advent and Lent because they were Catholic, but I’ve found it comforting and satisfying to connect with Christians through the ages by following these traditions.

    Thank you for your posts! This is the first time I’ve commented, but I’ve been reading off and on for a couple years.

  2. I’m just discovering Advent this year – thanks for this post! It’s amazing how much bigger God can be when He’s not confined to a Fundy box.

  3. To be honest, I don’t know what Advent means; maybe this will be the year for me to learn about it. I knew about the Advent calendar which kept track of the days until Christmas and if I was lucky, there was a piece of chocolate that went along with it. I attended a fundy elementary school and a strict Pentecostal church later on, for what it’s worth.

  4. I happened across your blog today… I was poking around wordpress looking for something else and the name Jeff VanVonderan popped up. I could not resist the temptation to follow the links… Tired of Trying to Measure Up was the first book I read — recommended to me by a Christian counselor. Then, Families Where Grace Is in Place; then, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse…

    I happened across your blog, and then I lingered, and lingered, and lingered… reading and nodding in agreement; reading and nodding; reading and nodding 🙂

    Anyway, re: this post, I have the benefit of a Methodist upbringing, thus exposing me to the concept of Advent. When I believed the words of Jesus and eventually entered the fundamentalist CULTure I didn’t know that Advent wasn’t part of the Christmas season.

    For what it’s worth, I recommend a book I came across a few years ago and chose for our family Advent reading: Jotham’s Journey, by Arnold Ytreeide. — we found that it created a context that captured the entire family’s attention and drew us back day by day. One of the happy outcomes is a deeper understanding, and appreciation, of what the writer of Hebrews said,
    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…”

    Thanks for your posts — I’ll return often, I’m sure.

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