Maybe it’s because I’ve been fighting off a nasty cold for a couple of weeks (an airplane is just a petri dish with wings) or because we are extremely busy with church (what else is new?), but it just hasn’t been looking a lot like Christmas for me these days. It’s not any kind of cynical holiday-burnout; I’m just kind of beat.
I find myself becoming more & more liturgical — both in how I envision our community worshiping together and in my personal sense of what it means to seek after God. Not liturgy for its own sake, but as a way of creating a rhythm in seeking after God. The word liturgy itself can be translated as, “The work of the people.” Most days, spiritual awakening and passionate revival aren’t falling from the sky in the form of high-density protein bars (nope, not even this kind). For me, the experience of God happens in the active search, the longing, the seeking. I need to lean in, to calm down, to pay attention to God.
Advent (which began this past Sunday) is a season of watching and waiting, expectation and anticipation. I love that, for the Church, our calendar is not set by the madness of Black Friday. No, our year begins as we prepare the way of our Lord, as Christine Sine explains in this wonderful post about Advent. The Advent season reminds me that business is not as usual and that I am being called into a different rhythm.
I recently joined the Junky Car Club. From their site: “Junky Car Club members are learning to live with less so we can give more. We’re a bunch of happy drivers who are politely rebelling against consumerism by driving junky cars. We encourage our members to use their dough to support social justice causes instead of making fat car payments. We believe in environmental stewardship and hanging onto things a little longer. Junky Car Club members sponsor kids living in poverty through Compassion International.”
I love that phrase, learning to live with less so we can give more. It reminds me of a great GK Chesterton quote I read in Al Hsu’s The Suburban Christian:
There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
It’s easy to rant about Jesus being the “reason for the season” or to denounce the commercialization of Christmas. Learning to desire less stuff — that’s where life happens. The Junky Car Club is a fun way of promoting the transformation of hearts & minds and making a difference in the world. And, as an Asian American, I love the idea of subverting our car-obsessed culture. Seriously, how many Asian American youth pastors have had students hold down a part time job just to support their body-kit habit on their perpetual work-in-progress Honda Civic? Imagine what would happen if we, collectively, decided to ditch The Fast and the Furious for simple, authentic love, mercy and justice.
In a small way, joining the Junky Car Club has become part of my personal liturgy during this Advent season. Instead of a self-indulgent holiday filled with more and newer, just a little bit of self-control (because, really, simply owning a car at all — no matter how beat-down or busted — makes us rich in a global perspective) can point me towards the heart of Christ during Advent. Jesus came to serve, not to be served; and He calls us to the same. If I can live with just a little bit less, there will be that much more to give.
Christ has come; Christ is coming! Prepare the way of the Lord!