Advent and Christmas greetings to you, Columbia Seminary alumni/ae and friends!
By now you’ve probably seen at least one of the Geico Insurance TV commercials inviting us to save 15% on the cost of our car insurance. A particular ad stars a camel named Caleb, who walking through a business office, asks “guess what day it is?” After several pleas one of his office colleagues finally responds to the camel, “It’s hump day.” To which Caleb responds with a hilarious, “Woohoo!”
The most-watched television ad so far this year, this commercial announcement declares that we can be happier than a camel on hump day if we’ll buy what they’re selling! With a reported 13,000,000 hits on YouTube, this has been the most frequently shared TV ad between people this past summer. Advertising Agency editor, Abbey Klaassaan says, “You know it is unusual to get an ad that has this kind of staying power.”
Through Advent’s preparation and Christmas Day’s celebration, together we will all be privileged to proclaim publically and hear once again another ad of sorts that has an even greater staying power. The message of God’s redeeming love given to a weary and darkened world still comes to us across two millennia since there was a Mary and a Joseph and a babe lying in a manger. And whether to pilgrims at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or to those gathered in innumerable other sacred spaces, or to those just keeping watch in the fields by night, the angelic announcement shall be made again, perhaps for some heard for the first time.
Be not afraid. For I bring you good tidings of a great joy that is for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.(Luke 2:10)
And the assertion may be made or at least implied that for those buying what the angels are offering there is a cost savings of sorts, a joy of salvation that might even exceed the joy of a preacher on Christmas Day!
As one who with you has sought to navigate through many an Advent and Christmas season as clergy, I am also aware of how exhaustingly wonder-filled the task can be. Scripture readings usually lead us into the interpretive challenges of cataclysmic apocalypse and back-to-back encounters with a not-so-merry John the Baptist. There’s the every year insistent popular demand for Christmas carols NOW, during what’s supposed to be a season of waiting. There’s the nebulously joyful reality of seeing and greeting folks you’ll encounter again only at Easter. Additionally, there are all the high expectations of this blessed season that we try real hard to satisfy ourselves. And if that is not enough, you’ve probably also discovered by now that Christmas Day 2013 will fall on a Wednesday. Guess what day it is? It is another hump day that is as far away in the week from a Sabbath rest as can be. Woohoo!
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines staying power as the ability, influence, or strength enough to keep going through a difficult task. With you I am delighted to be reminded that the public announcement to be made, the Christmas message to be shared, the divine ad to be reenacted is indeed an unusual one. May its great staying power be yours both in and out of season.
Grace to You and Peace!
Randy Calvo ‘81