In the history of sports, there have been a number of tortured groups of fans. Fans of the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox and all people in the city of Cleveland come to mind. One often-overlooked tortured fan base (of whom I am a member) are the people of Kansas City.
Kansas City has two major professional sports teams: the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals. The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1969; as for the Kansas City Royals, they won their first World Series 30 years ago in 1985. Since that time, there have been a lot of lousy Royals teams. They went 29 years without even making the playoffs, the longest playoff drought in professional sports. At one point, they had 17 losing seasons in 18 years, often losing more than 100 of the 162 games that they played in each year. Their fans were left waiting and waiting for the day that they would be a respectable team again…
Until last year.
Last year, the Royals made the playoffs for the first time in 29 years. They finally won that World Series this past fall. While it’s amazing to win a world championship any time, the best part of the celebration is that the fans of Kansas City had waited so long for it to finally come about. This is what made the celebration truly special.
Waiting is a part of living out a Catholic faith. We’re all familiar with the long wait of Lent as we fast and sacrifice our way to Easter. What’s often lost is the wait involved with Christmas. During this time of year, it’s apparent that our culture has a hard time waiting for the season to come. Today, the Christmas rush begins sometime around the end of Halloween. But in the beginning, it was not so.
From the earliest years of Christianity, the Church began to set up a liturgical calendar to help Christians prepare and celebrate the holiest days of the year. It’s a beautiful expression of believers worshiping these holy days together as a universal Church.
Advent is, of course, the season that helps us prepare for Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin “adventus,” which means “the coming.” As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.”
While Advent is not a time of penance and fasting like Lent (though it once was, and it still is in the Orthodox Church), it is still a season of waiting and preparation, not of feasting and celebrating.
But our secular culture is often much stronger than our liturgical calendar. Oftentimes, we often go right ahead and celebrate Christmas early. We turn on the Christmas music in November. We make Christmas cookies in early December. We decorate the house as if Christmas is already here.
While this example is extreme, celebrating Christmas during Advent is a bit like eating meat on a Friday during Lent. It’s out of place, and it isn’t time yet. And amidst all of this early celebrating, we forget to wait. We fail to hear the wisdom of Church and live out the Advent season.
When I have conversations with people about Advent and Christmas, they often have many excuses. I love Christmas music so much! When I grew up, celebrating Christmas early was a part of my family’s tradition. I just can’t do it!
While some of these are understandable, I often laugh. Many times these are the same people who have made radical decisions for Jesus Christ about how they live their lives…and yet, they just can’t wait to celebrate Christmas.
Everyone has to find their own way to celebrate Advent well. Be sure to find how you will celebrate it. Here are some suggestions:
Do you like Christmas music? Listen to Advent music instead. (Here’s a playlist.)
Do you like decorating around the house? Put up Advent colors to remind you of the season.
Are you excited about Christmas? Read Scripture and books on Advent to get you ready for the season (like this one).
This year, decide to celebrate Advent before Christmas — because waiting makes the holiday sweeter.