OK, I'll confess. I'm one of those people who thinks fondly of a time when Advent was Advent, and Christmas didn't begin to intrude about the time of All Saints Day.
But the other reality is that we live in America in 2006, and I don't expect that we'll stop hearing "Jingle Bells" on the radio in late November any time soon. So what to do?
One way, perhaps, to re-capture some church year grounding is to do some special reading during Advent. Some reading that we wouldn't do some other time of the year. Some reading to prepare us for Christmas, which is after all what Advent is for.
So I'm reading Johann Gerhard's 'Seven Christmas Sermons.' I'm not a big fan of reading sermons: sermons are for preaching, not for silent reading, but like all man-made rules, this is a rule that can be broken when the right occasion arises. And Gerhard is a good reason for breaking this rule.
Johann Gerhard is one of those treasures of Lutheran theology. Like most such treasures, Gerhard is ignored by most Lutherans of the early 21st century. We ignore him at our peril. I encourage reading his deeply theological and sweetly devotional works. Repristination Press is to be thanked for re-publishing much of Gerhard's works.
(Don't confuse Johann Gerhard -- theologian -- with Paul Gerhardt, hymnist. Gerhardt's hymnody is rich and wonderful, and many of his hymns can be found in most Lutheran hymnals and service books. Encourage the use of those hymns, but that's for another post. Read a bit about Paul Gerhardt here ).