Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

USA Today Stirs the Pot of Advent Controversies

In its Opinion Section today, USA Today includes two articles
focusing on Advent. Now that is notable all by itself. I can’t remember
when a newspaper had two, count ’em, two Advent themed articles.

But it’s not all sweetness and light. USA Today stirs the pot by looking at one issue that is already controversial in some churches: Should we sing Christmas carols in Advent? Or should we save them all for Christmas Eve and the 12-day season of
Christmastide? Some church leaders support a ban on Christmas music in
Advent. As you can imagine, this doesn’t go over really big with lots of



The second USA Today column doesn’t so much highlight an existing controversy as it seeks to start one. In her column entitled, “Advent: Let’s start to heal our planet”,
Mallory McDuff argues that Advent is a time to come up with solutions
for the problems associated with climate change. She writes, “During
this season of Advent, we must not wait for polls or votes to
harness the power of religion for the challenge of climate change. We
also need to imagine the possibilities and passions that children see in
the spirit of Advent, in glittered mangers and even an elf on a shelf.
Let every heart prepare for innovative actions grounded in a moral
imperative. The time isn’t coming. It’s here.” As of this moment, the
colors of Advent are purple, royal blue, and pink. I wonder if we should
change to green?


For the record, I’m pretty sure the folks in the first column who don’t
think we should sing Christmas carols in Advent would not be all that
excited about green candles!

So, what do you think? Should we sing Christmas carols in Advent? Should Advent focus on climate change?

You can find my thoughts about Advent in this series: Advent Introduction: What is Advent? Why Does It Matter? How Can We Celebrate It?

I explain the church year and its seasons here: Introduction to the Christian Year.  

  • Jon Biggar

    Both proposals are silly, and both are dangerous.
    The purpose of Advent is to encourage Christians to focus intently on Jesus Christ and the desperate need of the world for a Savior.
    Attempting to bad Christmas carols before December 24 is legalism in its most petty form, and is yet another attempt in the never-ending battle of to substitute something else for true meaning of Christmas: God sending his Son so that we can learn to be saved–by faith, not works.
    Calling for Christians to “focus” on climate change during Advent is just as insidious. Christians are “in the world, not of the world.” Our primary purpose is to further God’s Kingdom, not to “save the planet.”
    Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying we shouldn’t be good stewards of the earth. But this is yet another example of the attempt to put works before faith. Jesus Christ is the focus of the season, not “Mother nature”.

  • g

    Thank God for another useless argument.
    Nothing says Christianity like ‘Useless arguments about anything and everything.

  • pat Grimm

    “You strain at gnats and make my people fit for hell” – Let’s see who said that? Could it have been Jesus, the Savior of the us all, telling us to stop thinking about nonsense and read His word to find all of the answers. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but NEVER will I be a Christian and this is just one of many reasons. You all discussing Advent can boogie around a maypole naked for all the good you do.

  • Gary Mac

    You design more and more laws to regulate your god and take you further and further from the Christ. Why don’t you just yield to Gods Spirit and be as Jesus was as you are supposed to be so all of these petty issues you conjure can go by the wayside? Why cant you just be like Him?

  • Mark D. Roberts

    Thanks for your comments. Though I appreciate the potential of Advent to help me grow in my relationship with the Lord, I am not at all a fan of turning something that has spiritual substance into a new legalism. So I’m in full agreement with those who reject the notion of turning Advent into a bunch of laws. It is worth noting, however, that many people, including me, find the free use of certain Advent traditions to enrich and deepen faith, much in the way that singing certain classic hymns of the faith might do the same. – Mark

  • James

    Lets not forget What even the word ‘Advent’ means. Let see what it says Webster defines advent as 1.An arrival 2.The coming of Christ into the world 3.the penitential period beginning four Sunday’s before Christmas… Wow nothing more to add from me… Merry Christmas

  • Gary Mac

    The reason people cannot agree about their religious beliefs and war against each other, you against them and they against you, is your differences in laws to govern your gods. Muslims have laws to govern him and follow them, Adventist have laws that differ from these, Baptist differ, Catholic differ, and all of these religions are designed to appease what is understood. That understanding depends on the state of mind, perspective, and these laws are designed to do for we establish the law. Either you have the mind of God, Christ, or you have your own perspective limited to a flesh mentality, carnality where faith becomes law instead of works. And works as in the same faith Jesus had.
    Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
    29. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
    30. Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
    31. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
    Having faith in Christ and having the faith of Christ is not the same thing. I understand your position but in Christendom it is paramount that it is we who are supposed to be that same person of Christ that Jesus was at Gods coming to you as He did in Jesus. Gods promise is He will come to you and make His abode in you and that prophecy is fulfilled only when we yield our own ideas and laws and receive from God His Spirit, His mind. His way is not our way and we must put on His way in order to know Him at all. At that point in time when He does come to you as He did in Jesus, John, Paul, Moses, Adam, 120 in an upper room only then do all things become new, a new heaven and earth and nothing is hidden that was hidden. The revelation of the Christ is Gods Spirit in you, you being that anointed one. Christ means to be anointed of God, Christ in you.
    Advent sounds nice, Baptist sounds nice, Catholic sounds nice, Jehovah’s witness sounds nice, Assemblies of God sounds nice, But is you do not have in you what Jesus had in himself then you follow a tradition designed to lead you in their way and Christ is ousted in favor of the traditions of man.
    A Christian is as the Christ. Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21 that the kingdom of God does not come with observation. It isn’t a place you are going to see and touch, Behold the kingdom of God is within you. Looking for a pie in the sky is not going to reveal heaven to you. You have to look within for His kingdom.
    Col. 1:26. Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
    27. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
    28. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
    . You are the temple of God and if you are anything less than what Jesus was then you do not follow Gods example for you no matter what religion you follow.

  • juanitabonita

    Through reading Mark’s other posts on the subject of Advent, I can see that the intention here is to renew interest in a beautiful season of the Christian calendar has been neglected to detriment of many. Considering the fast-paced treadmill that many live their lives on, I think it is a good thing to have seasons in the Church that ask us to stop and reflect on exactly what being Christian is all about…preparing for the coming of our Lord and Saviour.
    I personally love Advent, it is my favourite time in the Church and it helps to prepare my heart and soul for the miracle of Christmaa.

  • v2ID

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