Advent 2019

Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
-Eugene Peterson

Happy December! I would be lying if I said that I wasn't already struggling with the rush and stuff of Christmas.  Reuben's home (yay!) and he brought back suitcases full of treasures.  There's not a lot of holy hush in our house.  Things tend to crowd out the quiet anticipation and waiting of Advent.    It's true for children and it's true for me, but I'm working on leaning into the longing that comes with the almost, not yet, and already.   This year I am reading a book published by Plough called When the Time was Fulfilled that speaks right to this feeling in me.  This is not a snuggle-up-and-get-cozy kind of Advent reading.  I'm only four days in and it has given me a lot to think about.  Here's a quote: 

Christmas is indeed something to anticipate.  It is a season of joy for good reason: it is the news of a Savior being born, of light breaking into darkness, of God's peace and goodwill to all.  But joy is more than merriment.  For those who only want to have a good time or a feeling of togetherness, Christmas brings little more than a temporary feeling of cheer.  Afterwards, life goes on as before.  But for the one who feels bankrupt, without real meaning or hope - either for themselves or the world- for the one who senses that something is terribly wrong with the way things are, Christmas can be genuinely life changing".  

It is a free download that you can find here.

There's so! much! great! music!  At first I made a list of some of my favourite albums, but I ended up making a playlist on Spotify that I can share.  You can (hopefully) listen here.  I’m sure I will keep adding to it throughout the month.

One new thing I did this year was to wrap up 25 Christmas books that Ellis and Jesse can open and read each day.  The fact that I got all the books wrapped and set under our wee Christmas tree (which we very conveniently set atop a low bookshelf this year) by Dec 2 - and had enough wrapping paper - was in and of itself a Christmas miracle!

These are the first four books we have read.  The Legend of the Candy Cane has been a BIG hit, probably because we also have candy canes in our house.  Sugar always helps.

I know I mentioned him last year, but I have come back yet again to the work of Malcom Guite this Advent.  Please - don't be put off by his crazy hair and poetry. He has a talk called Waiting on the Word that is well worth an hour of your time this season.  It’s a mash up of a poetry-deep-dive and poetry-for-dummies. You can watch it here.  

And last but not least, we are also doing our Advent calendar and readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  The struggle of advent candles with a 2 and 5 year old is real but we do it anyway.  It makes me laugh to think about how I started this with Ellis when he was only Jesse's age, but it's firmly rooted in our family culture now, and until the ornaments get burned, dipped in hot wax, or smeared with grease (the fate of many an object in our home), it will continue.  

Advent blessings to everyone.  Wait well, friends!  

"THE HOUSE LIGHTS GO OFF and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised the baton. 

In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. 

You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. 
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment. 

The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor. 

But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath."   - Frederick Buechner

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