Advent is here! I like Advent, and not just for the calendars. In a way, the calendars are a reminder and a cheap substitute for what Advent is about. The calendar creates a sense of anticipation, each day providing the opportunity to open another surprise window. Sadly, the whole anticipation of these calendars is lost as soon as the doors are all opened. Not only that but the object that closes the anticipation is usually something small and cheap, perhaps a chocolate or some plastic trinket. The joy of the calendar is not in the object revealed but in the anticipation of revealing the object.
Advent (the religious season) is meant to hold a deeper sense of anticipation. It's the start of the Christian year and is the time that we prepare for the arrival of Christ, both as a baby and as the eschatological Christ. The expectation of a baby is exciting and terrifying and there are probably some parallels to be drawn between a newborn and the divinity/demands of Christ. At the same time we are reminded that Christ has not just an incarnational presence in the world but also an eschatological presence that we hope for and anticipate. Infant expectancy should point us towards eschatological expectancy.
As the beginning of the ecclesial year, Advent is a little subversive. It's a rejection of the secular calendar, the financial calendar. Instead it's a calendar based around the expectation of Christ. Instead of new years resolutions and hangovers, Advent is an opportunity to look forward to something beyond personal improvement goals and instead catch a glimpse of an entirely new creation.
Sure, Christmas is around the corner but in the middle of the consumerism and travel plans we can lose sight of the larger hope that we have, that the new creation is now and not yet.