We seem to be very out-of-sync with ourselves. For several weeks, we have already been surrounded with the secular trappings of the Christmas season, but we as Episcopalians are asked to enter fully into the season of Advent. Instead of frantically preparing for an hour and a half celebration on December 25, we are supposed to be in the midst of a penitential time of growing darkness, and we think about our personal need for a Savior. Perhaps some of us feel a little self-righteous with our conspicuous Advent austerity, but if we're honest, we know there is, in fact, a lot of darkness in the world even as we're expected to wish all a "Merry Christmas!" How then can we make our way through this cognitive dissonance we experience each December?
(I'm pleased with the way this sermon actually turned out. It's worth the listen – if for no other reason that I get to tell my favorite Advent story in it…)