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November 27, 2008

An Alternative to Black Friday

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We begin the new year on Sunday. That may come as a surprise for many. The first Sunday in Advent marks the beginning of the church year. Most of us live under the dictates of our cultural calendar, not the church calendar. Observing time liturgically is something that I have been discovering and submitting to more and more over the last five to seven years.

Advent is a season of preparation that culminates with the celebration of Christ's nativity. Lent is likewise a season of preparation that leads to the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter. We are used to thinking of Lent as preparation. Advent? Not so much. Generally we treat Advent as a time of extended celebration no different than Christmas. However, as the church has worshiped throughout history that has not always been the pattern. Fasting and reflection is preparation for feasting and celebration. Perhaps one of the things that helps us to frame Lent as preparation is the solemn observance of Ash Wednesday. WIth Advent we have no analogous time of reflection.

At Jacob's Well this Friday evening we are going to create some space and practices that will function for us towards Advent in a way similar to how Ash Wednesday sets up Lent. In our culture, the Friday following Thanksgiving functions as the holiest of all cultural holidays: Black Friday. This consumer narrative of spending as the defining characteristic of what it means to be human has nearly overwhelmed any other conception of what it means to live and breath and have our being. Especially in our current financial circumstances. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany tell a different story about who we are and what it means to bear the image of God. That message is very nearly eclipsed by the gospel of capitalism. This attempt to live more fully in the gospel of Jesus Christ is what is also animating our participation in the Advent Conspiracy.

For the last month a team of people from Jacob's Well have been dreaming and planning a night shaped around engaging God in preparation. The space will be totally interactive and is intended for all - kids, included. It has been fun to be around the building of Jacob's Well this week as our creative team has been disassembling the altar from the Philippians series (pictured above) and constructing something (significant) for Advent. I can't wait to see what they pull together.

Here is how Jannele Mastin, one of the creators of the time, has described Friday night:

Start off the Christmas season in a way that brings rest, clarity, creative expression and focus on the light that is to come....
come and listen, come and create, come and pray, come and experience, come and see, come and wait...

Join us Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Jacob's Well sanctuary.

(thanks to Tim Bridgham for the picture)

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