Advent 2018

Happy December, friends! For the moment, I want to skip over the fact that we crossed continents and are back in Malaysia, because I still hope to write a bit more about our trip.  But I don't want to wait too long that I miss out on posting about advent.  I wanted to share a couple of advent resources we are using for this season.

1 + 2: I recently listened to a podcast with Sally Clarkson interviewing scholar/poet Malcolme Guite about advent. You can listen to the podcast here (they start their discussion of advent in the second half of the recording, but the first part is totally relevant).  I don't know about you, but it is all too easy to get swept away in the Christmas frenzy that we forget that advent is a time to slow down, to wait, to long for, and to hope.  This conversation reminded me of that.  "There would be a danger in Advent if it was all just about the run up to Christmas and looking backwards.  The great thing about Advent is that it's a remembering one coming in order to look forward to another". It also introduced me to his Guites' collection of "O Advent Antiphones," based on the names of Jesus as prophesied in Isaiah.  The following is the last Antiphone, called O Emmanuel:

"O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands."

3.  The album Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson.  I know I've recommended Andrew Peterson several times on here, but his Christmas album is gold-standard.  I mean, if you want to learn the genealogy of Jesus, what is a more what is a more entertaining way but through song? Noteworthy mention: Matt Maher's new album, the "Advent of Christmas".  

4. This past year I have made a random little hobby of looking at nativity paintings from around the world.  I think it is fascinating to see how other cultures represent and contextualize the birth of Christ.  Jesus is for everyone!  You can see a compilation (there's even one from Malaysia!) on a website here.

5.  I picked up from the charity shop here a couple of months ago a beautiful set of hammered aluminum Jesse Tree ornaments.  We're still doing our felt Jesse tree that goes along with the Jesus Storybook Bible, but  we are using this new set to do some daily readings straight from Scripture.  Children's Bibles are a wonderful thing, but I realized this past year that we had almost completely substituted it for straight-from-the-Bible-Scripture.  The readings we are doing with the Jesus Storybook Bible pretty much go along with the Bible readings, so they complement each other well.

6. And last but not least, I read a book on our trip to the U.S. called The Green Ember by S.D. Smith.  It's a young adult novel about a world of rabbits whose kingdom has fallen and the story of how they they dream and hope and work to reclaim it back to themselves.  There's a beautiful quote from the book that I had marked down in my journal last month and, after re-reading it this week, I see how perfectly it speaks to the reason for why we practice advent.

 "...This is a place dedicated to the reasons why some must fight.  Here we anticipate the mended wood, the Great Wood healed.  Those painters are seeing what is not yet, but we hope will be.  They are really seeing, but it's a different kind of sight.  They anticipate the mended wood in our various ways.  We sing about it.  We paint it.  We make crutches and soups and have gardens and weddings and babies.  This is a place out of time.  A window into the past and the future world.  We are heralds, you see, my dear, saying what will surely come.  And we prepare with all our might, to be ready when once again we are free."  
-S.D. Smith

Amen.  How are you practicing Advent this year?  

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