Advent: The Most Lutheran of Seasons

Lutherans are often portrayed as being a “Lent” sort of people. Somber, slow chorales. A generally dark disposition. Anyone who looks too cheerful and happy must be a charismatic or something. Yet, if anyone is too sad or (ahem) depressed, they must not know Jesus loves them. Sometimes it’s hard being Lutheran

Yet in comes the season of Advent! Advent, which it’s joyous and hopeful hymnody, yet penitential character, seems to me to reflect perfectly the paradox which is Lutheranism, and dare I say Christianity itself. We receive the Gifts now, but they are not here in their fulness. We look for the coming of the Savior, but we do so with both repentance and joy. Our readings for the season do not reflect simply a period of pre-Christmas. Rather, they focus on Jesus entrance into Jerusalem to die, his return in glory, and the preparation of repentance preached by John and all the prophets.

So as a Lutheran pastor who suffers from clinical depression, I find a great deal of joy in the season. In a chemically toned down sort of way, of course. The season reflects perfectly what it means for me to be a Christian today. I am torn between rejoicing in God’s gifts now and wanting it all to be over so we can get to the good stuff.

For most people suffering from depression, we are entering into the darkest period. It is winter, so less sunlight. It is the “holiday” season, so we have extended interaction with family, and all the conflict which inevitably ensues. For pastors, this is the start of the 3-4 busiest months of the year in terms of preaching and catechesis. EVERYTHING happens from December to early April. I always feel like I should get a medal after Easter.

Yet there is hope in this season. It stands in stark contrast to the fake and plastic joy of our culture. The hope which Christ offers is real, not contrived. There is an end, there is joy now, and Christ Himself is coming.

Be at peace, brothers and sisters. Our Lord is coming. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus!

-DMR

7 thoughts on “Advent: The Most Lutheran of Seasons”

  1. Very good! I was sitting here this morning, as most days this season, trying to figure out how to "act" happy this year. Put on the fake "Wal-mart" face as my friend calls it.
    So many times I've asked for Christ's coming and "get to the good stuff" as you put it. Thank you for this meaning-filled Christ centered post.
    Blessings to you, and may be filled with an extra measure of strength these next few months to finish the race gracefully. And yes…..all pastors deserve a medal by the time Easter Sunday is at it's end.

    Theresa

  2. Dear Todd-

    This is an excellent post. Well-timed and beautifully written to illustrate the balance of reality & hope during this VERY difficult time of year(s).

    grateful for His grip, HveHope

  3. I have a question: If a counseling center has the words "Judeo-Christian," or "God" on their websites, am I supposed to avoid these places? Also, I notice that Dr. Beverly Yahnke works at a "CHRISTIAN Counseling Center!" Sorry to be off-topic.

    Susie

  4. Beautiful reminder. Thank you for posting it!

    I just discovered Paul Washer admits to struggling with depression also. I wonder if he will elaborate on this in the future?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEgHu48SuZg

    There was also a conversation between John Macarthur and John Piper wherein Piper admitted to having long times of depression. Apparently (from reports I heard) Macarthur's reaction to this admission was such that it almost looked as if he had never gone through anything quite like this.

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