Christmas is coming, but Advent is here.
The College and the School at Saint Constantine will concede no joy to anyone. We want all the goodness, truth, and beauty that there is. If there is a party to be had, we want to be there. If that party does more harm than good, then our pastors will point this out and we will back out, but not because of the fun. A party that is harmful is no party, but a snare and delusion. We are looking for joy, harmless and helpful reality.
We love the party, but hate the hangover. Our quest is happiness without any bad consequences. Thankfully this is possible.
The trouble with an event, an action, or lifestyle is never love or joy. We only hesitate to party when sin corrupts the joy. Imagine a Christmas party where all is joyous, but then someone or something goes wrong. The problem is not the party, but the wrongness. We wish we could party without any sense of restraint, but this does not work in our broken reality.
We are not what we should be.
As a result, we need some rigor before the party to make sure we know that the feast is not a permission slip to do harm. We fast in Advent, consider the hard truths of the world, for the sake of joy. For Christians, joy is the thing, while sorrow is joy gone wrong. Heaven is the goal, not Hell. If you must go to Hell, then you can or you can choose differently.
As we put up our evergreen trees, icons of eternal life, let us also consider that we could (God help us!) choose death. We face eternity and we may choose between what we wish and what is good. We could remain as we are or be born again and so transformed. Christmas is the season of transformation, Advent (the time before Christmas) the time of choice.
We could go to Hell and suffer. If we go there, then we can remain apart from goodness, truth, and beauty. We squeal away forever with whatever little remnant of us is left after we reject God or we could join the choir angelic.
We could sing Christmas carols or Tweet narcissistic complaints.
Advent is the time that makes the party pure. We stop. We think about what we are and change. Of course, this change is always inadequate, but the mercy and grace of God hears what we mean and so gilds our choice. This is not because some joy, some pleasure, is wrong, but because joy and pleasure are so easy to misuse this side of Paradise. We will not justify any evil based on what we wish and will not be content with anything less than total, complete, and uninhibited joy.
Love is never a problem. Happiness or wholeness is always good. What is bad is the twisted action that turns love and happiness into futility: like seeking children from an act that cannot produce children.
We seek natural joys. We look to wholesome goodness. We need Advent to purge Christmas of our mistakes.