I am observing Advent for the first time this year. I'm not from a liturgical background, so this is all new to me. If you remember, two years ago, I wrote four reasons to celebrate Lent, even if you're not Catholic. I didn't celebrate Lent this year, and I could definitely feel the difference when Easter came around. I wasn't mentally and spiritually prepared to truly enjoy the meaning.
Hence, I decided to observe Advent.
The last few months have flown by so quickly. I feel like we're all celebrating Christmas in October, because mentally, that's what month it feels like it should be. Before December began, my calendar was filled with Christmas parties to attend, plan and host, Christmas program practice, Christmas shopping, Christmas card mailing, Christmas crafts, and all the fun activities on my winter bucket list. If I don't do something, this month will pass in a glittery blur of stress, spending, rushing, and peppermint flavored coffee.
Enter: Advent. According to the ever reliable Wikipedia:
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences onAdvent Sunday....
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
That's a great perspective shift for this crazy rushed season.
I'm practicing this expectant waiting by following a daily Advent Bible Reading plan along with the She Reads Truth community. The first reading started with the fall of man in Genesis, the reason we need a Savior. Then I read God's promise to Abraham, and the prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah. From now until Christmas, I'll be following the thread of the promised Savior through the Bible until it culminates with the arrival of Jesus. It's only a few days in, so there's still time to jump in and join!
I'm also combining two of the suggestions for my winter bucket list. Sage suggested cutting out paper snowflakes and hanging one up on the wall every time I do a new good habit, and Tara suggested counting down my blessings every day until Christmas. I'm combining them by taping paper snowflakes to the wall with blessings written on them. By Christmas, our walls should be covered in a snowstorm of blessings!
This Sunday in our children's Christmas program, I'll play the part of the Sunday school teacher who is in charge of the Christmas program (a play within a play situation). According to the script writers, she is a "very put together type of person," who is "all business." The children in the program all know the Christmas story forwards and backwards and are just going through the motions because "we do it every year." But, there's a new kid at church. He's supposed to play the part of a shepherd, but he's not really sure what a shepherd is. In fact, he's never heard the Christmas story. Eventually, his questions cause everyone to pause and consider why they're doing this program, and in particular, why they kneel at the manger.
That's when I say:
You're right Sam. This is just a doll. It's not really Baby Jesus. But we dress up every year and act it out like this because Jesus once was a real baby who was born in a barn. And when we act it out, we remind ourselves of the story and what really happened.
The most important part of the story is not just that He was born, though. Jesus is God- but was born to do a job that only He could do. He came to die on a cross and save everyone from their sins - the wrong things they have done. He came for you- and you, and you, and you, and me. And because He came to save us, He deserves all of our love- and that's why we kneel.
Whatever your Christmas traditions may be, I hope you'll take the time to kneel at the manger, and worship the King who came to save us, and deserves all of our love.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Labels: Advent, Christmas