November 2009


I am glad that Advent is a season of preparation and not perfection…or else I would have already failed!!  It seems as though this season has come upon me without me being fully ready.  I am trying to make an Advent menu (because we are going to try vegetarian eating except for Sundays) but it’s been on my desk for the last two days and I haven’t touched it once.  I just pulled out some books we will use for our journey into the next few weeks, but didn’t get to any readings tonight because I friend of mine had to go to the emergency room and I had her kids here.  (I don’t know if anyone else can relate…but I could use a few more days before Advent starts!  However, since I don’t have that, I want to take a deep breath and enter into preparation…not perfection!)

One thing we did do today is create a “kind-of” Jesse Tree.  My daughter and I put together an arch of twigs from the yard for the creche to go under.   You can tell we put it together ourselves but we had fun doing it!!  (In other words…we won’t be marketing our homemade “Jesse Trees” anytime soon!)  Anyway, the arch will reside over the creche and each night after we do these nightly readings, we’ll add a symbol/picture/ornament to the arch.

So then my daughter gathered 7 rocks from our garden and covered them with the colors of the Christian Seasons.  They are the anchor points for our Jesse Tree arch.  And of course, I had to get into our seasonal stuff and get out the creche.

I also pulled out a couple of the books we will use during this season.  My kids LOVE The Advent Book.   Even as they get older, they love to open the doors and read the story behind them.  Then Beginnings and Endings accompany our readings in the evenings.

May you enjoy the preparation of Advent and not worry or fall into perfectionism.  May we all not just fall into sentimentality (as we hear one more rendition of  “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”) but may we tell the Stories that deepen our faith and lead us into expectation.

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Well, the turkey and stuffing have been eaten.  The pumpkin pie is three-quarters gone and calling to me from the fridge.  The laughter from last night’s meal is just a memory.  I slept in way too late to make it to any crazy Black Friday sales (although I will go to Costco for a free cookbook!)  But the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth this morning was, “Oh…now we start Christmas!”

I have to be honest that it made me cringe.  I wanted to cry out, “We don’t start Christmas…we enter into the ADVENT season soon!!”  There is a difference and when they blend together, I don’t think we live in either season well.  I was reading Amy over at Splendor in the Ordinary where she titled a post “Christmas has devoured Advent”.  I agree…I feel like all the glitter, ornaments and trumpery of Christmas has consumed the discipline and preparation of Advent.

In The End of Advent, Joseph Bottum writes

Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale. Every secularized holiday, of course, tends to lose the context it had in the liturgical year. Across the nation, even in many churches, Easter has hopped across Lent, Halloween has frightened away All Saints, and New Year’s has drunk up Epiphany.

Still, the disappearance of Advent seems especially disturbing—for it’s injured even the secular Christmas season: opening a hole, from Thanksgiving on, that can be filled only with fiercer, madder, and wilder attempts to anticipate Christmas.

He goes on to talk about Advent being a discipline – “a way of forming anticipation and channeling it toward its goal.”  And that “a season of contrition and sacrifice prepares us to understand and feel something about just how great the gift is when at last the day itself arrives.

As for our household, we want to try to put Christmas in its place this year (with TRY being the opportune word!!)  We have already decided not to put our tree up until the second or third week of December.  We will make a Jesse Tree centerpiece for the table and use it in nightly readings/activities to lead us in anticipation toward Christmas.  We are going to try a fast of some sort during the Advent season so we can more enjoy the feasting of the Christmas season.  And we are going to have “A Walk to Bethlehem” – an experiential storytelling event – using the O Antiphons as our guide.  (I’ll post more about this tomorrow…and pictures after Sunday!)

O Lord, let us live well in each season in its time.  Help us to not lag behind nor rush forward to the next thing, but rather to engage with You and Your story in each season.  Let us see the beauty of creation, the tragedy of sin and the long cry of a people waiting for a Savior to free them.  Let us hear the patriarchs and the prophets, the angels and the heralds, and help us to take it all in.  Form us, once again, by Your story and Your Spirit.

The weather here has been pretty foggy the last couple of days.  Now, I am not complaining because I love the feeling of the air pulling close to the earth in a tight-wrapping hug and I like the way the misty air touches my skin and caresses the foliage.  Big diamond droplets of water cling tenaciously to the bare branches of the tree outside our kitchen.  My children will always comment that they feel like Narnia is close by when we experience the fog and I agree with them.  I half expect to see the shadow of lion moving in the veil – just out of my reach, yet not out of my vision.

This morning I awoke to the sound of a foghorn calling from somewhere on the coastline.  It was a low, deep call – calming with no sense of panic, yet a strong solid message of guidance.  I lay in bed enjoying the periodic sound allowing its reverberations to move through my body.   With each subsequent sounding, it became a call to my heart.

Over the past few months I feel like time has become crazy – my business, kids schedules, church, school, marriage, friendships, projects, and parenting all became a tumble-jumble mess and mix.  It couldn’t even be called “juggling” but rather more like tub of balls being dumped on me from above, some of them bouncing, others needing to be tossed in the air again and still others rolling away into some corner waiting for attention at a later date.  (I hope someone understands this illustration!)

But this morning, the foghorn became to me a distant call beckoning me toward Advent.  It signaled to me that there is coming a new season – one in which I am to enter by slowing down, waiting, listening, and even fasting.  In the midst of my foggy brain it became an directional compass, navigating me away from shipwreck on rocky shores and guiding me on to other harbors.  And as I listened, I found myself breathing in rhythm with the foghorn.  And so I long to breathe in sync to the rhythms of Advent.

Just found this site through a friend of mine.  They have some great Advent music as well as other WONDERFUL music!!  I’ve been listening to it all morning and just had to share it!!

Sojourn Music

Enjoy!!!

I love living in the Pacific Northwest!  It is green and lush and thick with vegetation.  As you fly into the airport you are able to see why some call Seattle the Emerald City!

But there is a moment – a day or two perhaps – when the green explodes into yellows, organge, browns and reds.  The leaves of the trees begin to sing in color!!  They hum in harmony with one another, complimenting each other.  No one color or leaf outshines the others, for their beauty is made all the more prominent when the differences between them can be seen.  It is in the diversity that true beauty is seen.

And…as I walk through this colorful symphony, I am rich!!

I had the opportunity last week to be with a group of people at a retreat.  There we talked about living in rhythm with the Christian Seasons and walking faithfully with God.  One night a group of us sat together and I began to hear that lovely music of diversity again.

There we sat – a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Russian Orthodox, and me (a non-denominational girl who leans toward the Christian mystics and now attends a charismatic church…go figure!!).  And in that small circle of chairs, the world broke out in vibrant color again!  Each person’s beauty accentuated by the differences of the other traditions!  The conversation was a lovely symphony of diverse words and ideas.

And…as I walked away, I realized that, like among the leaves, I am rich within the many colors of my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Lord, thank you for the colors – both in nature and inside Your Church.  Help us to live our lives vibrantly for You while also knowing that others also add to the color of the landscape.  May Your Church in all her color spectrum point to You, our Creator.  And may the world see the beauty of a God who does not just paint in black and white.