Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent is Here

The weekend has rumbled by us, and it was so good and full.

We had our First Annual Turkey Trot in China, complete with a 5k and 1 mile Tot Trot for the kids, and it was a delight and relief to see it come to fruition after the idea popped in my head a month or so ago.

We had our old upstairs neighbors to visit for the weekend which was a blessing to my entire family and not easy to say goodbye to (they even left a slew of gifts for me to to the 12 Days of Christmas-- how sweet are they?).

We celebrated two major feasts and one major oldest son's birthday, and then finally ended it all today with a party at school which involved me frosting a cake to look like a soccer ball, only to watch it be gobbled up with barely a glance at my intricate work of design. Such is love for your seven year old boy.

Into that weekend bursting full of food and togetherness and 5k sprints, crept the beginning of Advent.

I, for one, need Advent more than ever, or perhaps just differently and in a new way this year. And this is one of the things I do so love about holidays; they are there to heighten our awareness, to raise us up above the common days and enlarge us with celebration and all that comes with it.

We simply cannot live every day in celebration or in festivity, but God must have understood something about us as people- that these special, set-apart times are good and maybe even necessary for our souls. And though the festival days of old have become something shrouded in marketing, consumerism, and a celebration of emotions that barely touches the surface of what we're beholding, we can take hold of it's roots and our traditions, and let the time of Advent anchor our souls and enlarge our hearts. It is a combination of celebration and meditation, festivity and serenity, all centered around the works of God in our midst.

I do not have all my Advent ducks in a row yet. I am already behind. There is no advent wreath on the table, no special decor out, no special calendar ready for readings and little surprises with the children. I am learning to let it go a little and not feel too badly about all this. Sometimes you just can't get everything done, at least on time, and even doing all those things can become trappings. The point is, wreath or no wreath, I can still enter in.

Yesterday, these books came in the mail and I am pretty excited about using them as a tool to help me think on the themes that centuries of Advent celebration have developed. God Is In the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas by an assortment of authors. Two may be too many. I may stick with Bonhoeffer and try the other one next year.

Yesterday I read this quote in the opening pages of Bonhoeffer's book and it spoke to everything that can heighten and yet disappoint during Advent... it was a reminder of what it truly is, and what the importance of thinking on and worshiping in the midst of it all really does. As you read it, remember that Bonhoeffer was in prison as he wrote this, the place he died after being imprisoned for over two years during the reign of Hitler in Nazi Germany. During that time he was engaged to a woman named Maria.

"Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent. One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other- things that are really of no consequence- the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.
[as we wait during Advent] it's still not Christmas, but it's also not the great last Advent, the last coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate runs the longing for the last Advent, when the word will be: "See, I am making all things new" (Rev. 21:5).
The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth."


  1. I received Watch For the Light last year from a friend and have started reading it again in the mornings this season. There is a similar one for Lent I think you would like too. Maybe next year I will have to read Bonhoeffer. so happy for you to have a good weekend, and how fun that you have 12 days to open.

  2. Christine - I love this post, and these paragraphs by Bonhoeffer are gifts. I need to get this book.

    I do a lot of preparing for Advent, but I always find that funny since Advent is a season of preparing. I think "Come as you are," is a better way to begin Advent, and then let Jesus prepare us for what's to come.


  3. It's interesting how putting yarn in front of the books just make the picture so much warmer!

    Now I've got those books on my Amazon list. I wish I'd read this yesterday, before I put in my big Christmas-gift order there, but there's time for them to wait for my next $25-minimum free-shipping order since I probably won't be reading them till next Advent now... hm, or I could read the Bonhoeffer one on my Kindle software!