Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Pardon the goofy title. Advent is an adventure though -- it is so counter-culture. It’s all about pushing back the tidal wave of societal pressure to rush, to do, to buy… and instead carve out a way to just BE. It doesn’t fit with our lifestyle here in the West. Advent is about waiting, being quiet, longing for the Light.

Even without the frenzied “Twenty-one shopping days left until Christmas!” headlines on the evening news, throughout the rest of the year we still live by “to-do” lists half a mile long, multi-tasking, and crazy busyness. And before the last Thanksgiving dinner dish is washed and dried, the Christmas decorations are coming out. This year, in some neighborhoods near my home where apparently there is a contest to see whose house will win the most bedecked award, there appeared gargantuan inflatables and enough string lights to gratify the power company – and they were up around November 22nd. I had to look away when I drove by. Did Jesus really want this when He came down to earth as a babe of humble beginnings?

History and ritual play a part in our family’s celebrations of the seasons of the Christian year, or “sacred time” as a friend of mine has coined it. As believers have done since the sixth century, we try to lie low during at least the first part of December (despite having two birthdays occurring during the holidays – great family planning, huh?) and focus on the quiet preparatory aspects of the season. The liturgical year begins with Advent, and as we move through each of the year’s spiritual seasons, we participate in the drama that illustrates the story of our faith.

Many nights at dinner time, one of the children lights an Advent candle and says “Come Lord Jesus into our midst”. Much like the Jewish lighting of Shabbos candles to usher in the Sabbath each week, we invite God’s spirit to join us (and help keep peace with three boys) for our evening meal.

Also, among the many Christmas stories we read this month, we also revisit the Advent portion of a children’s book on keeping the seasons of the church year – mainly with my youngest son as the others feel too old. It’s a delightful, well-illustrated book called Come Worship with Me: A Journey through the Church Year.

It’s a story of a little mouse who narrates for the reader telling about his sacramental experiences at his church and what it means for his faith.

Finally, a new tradition we’re beginning this year is the daily lighting of the Cradle to Cross wreath created by Ann Voskamp’s son Caleb. We’re moving the figurine of Mary on the donkey forward a step each day and light candles in the holder that correspond with the days.

I listen to Early Music (meaning music from early times up to the Renaissance – 16th century) in the car and often in the evenings by the fire. It takes me out of his century, this decade, this culture just for a bit and reminds me to see the world in the larger scope of history. I feel like I connect with people of ages past who lived in harsher circumstances yet struggled to find ways to live with meaning. Then I can return to the present with a greater sense of His presence.

All of these rituals allow us to use our senses to experience our faith and see God's promises through time season in and season out, walking through the cycles. These little things help us keep the pace of Advent, which is far slower than the secular Christmas holiday. We women especially fall in to a mad rat race, becoming burdened with the myriad tasks of baking, shopping, cleaning, shuttling, dressing, partying, decorating, entertaining, more shopping, volunteering in the classroom or church or the community, giving and more giving... It’s a production we mount for an entire month. Too much for a lot of us.  
Let’s slow down and listen and be, so we can rediscover the light in the darkness.

Linking up with Charity Singleton at Wide Open Spaces for the Advent writing project she’s hosting at The High Calling and with Laura Bogess at The Wellspring.


Laura said...

What lovely ways to welcome Christmas! I am hopping over here from Wide Open Spaces. So glad you linked up for the High Calling's community writing project. I enjoyed my visit.

Anne said...

Good to hear from you Laura. I love sharing ideas -- we can all learn from each other. Thanks for visiting.

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