Monday, November 29, 2010

Pause and Watch - Advent Plans 2010

Advent is here.  A time to pause.  A time to watch.  A time to be deliberate in our daily reflections on faith.  Prepare.  It's the hot word of the season.  Prepare wish lists and cookie platters.  Prepare gifts for shipping and outdoor decorations.  Prepare Christmas letters and Christmas cards and Christmas photos.  Prepare holiday outfits and hairstyles.  Prepare the wallet for stashing cash and the closet for stashing gifts.  Prepare for St. Nicholas' feast day and Santa Claus' morning.  Prepare for traveling and for snowy winter nights at home.  Prepare.  It can get overwhelming if it's all done out of obligation.  That's where Advent comes in.  Advent is a time of waiting for Jesus, baby Jesus.  And who doesn't love waiting for a baby's coming.  This baby is different though.  There's no sheets to wash and crib to set up.  There's no layette to buy.  Big sister and big brother gifts aren't necessary, either are birth announcements or candy cigars.  Sounds easy to prepare for baby Jesus, but it isn't.  Sometimes the heart and mind are the hardest to prepare.  Our hearts and minds are filled with anger, hurt, disappointment, stresses of all kinds including Christmas preparations.  Jesus has a hard time finding his way in when there's no room for him, but don't despair he'll find a way.  Just like Mary and Joseph persevered when there was no room in the inn, Jesus perserveres today.  Take a moment to push aside some of the mental clutter and make room for Jesus.....the real reason for the season.

Now onto the Advent plans for this year.  We of course have our Advent wreath.  It's pretty humble as of today.  Just four candles on a pizza cardboard.  Hopefully I'll get out to cut a few boughs later today.  We're using this for our daily reflections.  Short and sweet.  Emily and Nick will look up the two bible verses earlier in the day and mark them to speed up the reflection.  Sounds like an oxymoron, but when 7 hungry people are waiting at the table reflecting needs to be kept to a minimum.  On Sundays we'll read from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1 and 2.  I also printed this for Sam, we read the square and then he crosses it off.  It's a nice tangible way to address the "how many days until Christmas?" question that comes up just about every day.  I also printed off this Advent chain, but forgot that I have it set up to print last page first.  I put the paper in the wrong order and used my last 3 sheets of violet paper.  I can't guarantee this idea will go any further.

What do you do during Advent?  What are your traditions?  I'd love to hear.