We took our kids to their first UGA football game this past weekend. As a part of the experience, we headed over to the Dawg Walk before the game. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into the world of college football, specifically UGA football, the Dawg Walk is where thousands of fans line up along a route leading into the stadium to cheer the team on as they head in to warm up and get ready for the game. People come out hours before the game to get a good spot along the route so they can high five their favorite player and wish them luck pre-game. We waited for a while with nervous anticipation and then the drums started beating, fans started cheering, and the cheerleaders ran through with a Big UGA flag that was five times the size of the American flag carried along side it. They don’t call it the Bulldog Nation for nothing.
It struck me as all this was transpiring what a clear story the fans were telling. These people devote hours, weeks, years of their lives to dressing in red and black and shouting the same cheers they’ve cheered for decades. It doesn’t matter if their team is shooting for an SEC championship or coming in 7-4 and just hoping for a respectable bowl. Their story, “It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog, Go DAWGS,” remains the same, loud and clear.
I think I noticed this clarity more because just days earlier I had been thinking about some of the mixed up stories I tell with my life, especially this time of year as we prepare for Christmas. I am the type of Christ follower that observes liturgical seasons, so I will soon enter advent once again. Our church, St Francis Episcopal, is preparing for advent this year by doing an Advent Conspiracy study. Yes, we are doing a study to get ready for a season that is about getting ready for Christmas. That’s how confusing things have gotten for Christians at this time of year.
And why are we so confused? Because we are not telling a clear story with our lives in how we celebrate Christmas.
Put another way, we are telling two competing stories with our lives. One is the story of Christ coming in our world and lives. The other is a story of consumerism and consumption. The stories share very little in common. Yet as a Christian in a first world country (America at that) we get caught up between the two. We feel we have to buy that toy or game or electronic for our kid or else they will be upset. We have to create some magical memorable Christmas with our families. As if you can fix family drama with decorations and pie. As if Christ becoming incarnate wasn’t magical enough.
I’m hopeful that this year as we explore the conspiracy, I’ll find a way to tell a more coherent tale. Sure, I’ll still get my kids presents. But maybe I won’t fret so much over if I have done ENOUGH for them and everyone else. Because in the end, I will never be enough. That’s part of why Christ came in the first place.
And in the end, the Christ child is more than enough.
Maybe somehow I’ll find a way to beat that out with a drum or wave it around on a big flag. Because that is a story worth telling. A story that brings life and not exhaustion. A story that enriches instead of spends poor.
Maybe you’ll find a way to tell a clear story to tell this Advent also. If you do, be sure to let us know!
*Many thanks to Rick McKinley, Greg Holder, and Chris Seay (the AC guys) for their great thoughts about the advent story and celebrating Christmas. Also thanks to Donald Miller for A Million Miles in a Thousand Years which shaped how I thought about telling a story with my life.
If you are looking for readings and meditations this advent, check out Lighten the Darkness: An Advent Journey Through Hope.