Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Advent

Merry Christmas!

Today marks the end of Advent--a season of waiting. He is here! Immanuel; God is with us. 

Our church--the people we gather with every week--graciously and gently challenged us to be intentional about the season of Advent, this time of waiting. They encouraged us to find ways to pause in the midst of the hustle and bustle to prepare our hearts to receive the gift of our Lord. I was touched by what they had to say and moved to incorporate their suggestion of an advent calendar full of others-centered activities into our own Christmas traditions.

To be quite honest, the first year felt awkward. Emeline was only two and was more excited about the envelopes than the deeper meaning tucked inside. Shawn and I didn't grow up in a liturgical tradition, so reading Scripture, other readings, and singing (basically to each other) seemed silly at times--especially with a squirmy two year old. But each day we accomplished the activity. We did it seemed to be our final thoughts. But I knew there was something deeper happening--even if we didn't see it that first year--and I knew I'd string up the envelopes again the following year because I wanted to find it.


December 2nd: 
1st Sunday of Advent. As we anticipate the coming of Jesus, put out a stocking for Jesus.
December 3rd: 
Slip a gift into Jesus' stocking today, a gift you'd like to give Him this year.

As I pointed out everyone's stocking, I explained we'd be giving gifts to Jesus this year too. There was that moment when I debated whether or not to really get into Matthew 25 with a three year old. I looked her in the eye and continued, "Not everyone gets to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Emeline. Did you know that? Sometimes people get really hungry. But Jesus said, when you give food to people who need it, it's like we're giving a gift to Jesus." I had planned to grocery shop later that day. "What if we pick out some food for other people today and put it in Jesus' stocking?" 

She nodded, "Okay Mommy," and then went to play. Too difficult to gauge if it made sense to her.

At the grocery store, when I reminded her about those who are hungry, she picked out some corn. And then she said, "The babies need bibs."

"What?"

"I think we need bibs for the babies." 

I swallowed hard, looked at my two girls looking at me and said, "Yes. I think that's a wonderful idea." And right there, in the middle of a grocery store aisle, my heart found treasure. Not the kind of treasure that can be found on this earth. The eternal kind. The kind that allows the infinite to invade your space--just for a moment--and it's enough to make you long for it again and again. Nothing else satisfies. 

I found myself looking forward to each new day, each new envelope--how would God show up today? What would he teach us as we acted out in service? There's treasure everywhere.

December 4: Donate toys or blankets to Riley Children's Hospital 

"Here Mama, I think this will keep the babies company!"


December 12:  Joy does not waiver with our circumstances. 
Take time to sing joyfully to the Lord today as we prepare for the coming of Jesus.

"Joy to the world! The 'Lawd' is come!"

December 20:  Donate food to a local food pantry.

Through sleet, rain, and very big puddles, we made it to the food pantry. Emeline handed her small bag of canned corn, baby bibs, and a tub of white frosting with sprinkles to the lady managing the food pantry. And then three people, waiting for food themselves, helped us bring in the rest. 

I drove away shaking my head. I want to do something like this all year long. 

That's when my heart made the connection. Advent is about waiting. In December, the waiting is about the birth of our King who came years and years ago. But he is coming back. Each day of the year is its own advent--we're all waiting for him to return. To right all wrongs, to fill indifference with love, to squash fighting with peace, to undo every awful thing, to return everything back to the beauty and wholeness it was created to have initially. We sing "Joy to the World" at Christmas time, but it was actually written with his second advent in mind.


Joy to the World,
The Lord is come;
Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart, prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing!
And Heaven and nature sing!
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing!

Let's celebrate and make merry today, but tomorrow, I don't want to forget that we are still in a season of advent. We are still waiting. I can do something like this all year long.

Let every heart prepare him room!

4 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Praise God! Thank you for this reminder, what a blessing!
    Love you! Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas Betty!!! Oh, I bet those babies of yours were adorable!! What a blessing! Double blessing! ;)

      Delete