Most of my students come from “non-liturgical” traditions. I like to introduce my first-year students to the church year around Advent, which usually begins at the same time as I’m beginning to teach the Gospel of Mark. This is when the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. So the challenge is for us to practise Advent as a season of renunciation and repentance even while the culture is trying to co-opt us into its annual orgy of materialism. I tell them that “the 12 days of Christmas” only begin Dec. 25 (and only then are Christmas lights, carols etc. appropriate … even as Boxing Day sales are going full tilt). Some look askance at me but others get it. They see that the liturgy and the liturgical calendar offer a way of mapping time that represents a counter-consumerist worldview.
Department of Theology
King’s University College