Preparing for Advent

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany

I  hear the laments of parents. I am a lamenting parent. Christmas is too much about the stuff. The stuff begins to clog up the supermarket aisles as early as September. My kids are bombarded by ads trying to get them, to get me, to want to buy them their heart’s desire of shiny junk. As a Christian I want to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a way that honors him and follows in his ways.

Advent is four weeks of preparation for the King of Creation. When we put it that way it almost seems that four weeks isn’t long enough. Blue is the color for the season, specifically Royal Blue as my eldest daughter reminds me, because Jesus is the King. I admit sometimes I forget that. With all thsale ads and the meals to prepare and the ever present Christmas music, I can hardly think, I can hardly remember.

Advent is preparation, it’s remembering that Royal Blue is for a Royal King. With all the distraction that is modern life,plus the added distraction of Christmas, we need ways to rememberSeveral years ago at Ridgeland Community Church some saintly ladies taught me the importance of Advent. They limped my non-crafty self through the process of making an Advent wreath. They taught me the significance of preparation for the Christ Child. I am forever grateful. Through the practice of Advent I learned to lean in and celebrate this blessed season. During those first few years of practicing Advent it was just my husband and I, and surprisingly we never fought over who got to blow out the candles. Now, my children take turns to see who gets to blow candle wax all over the table. Advent is a staple in our home. It is a practice that grounds us to the truths of Jesus.

What do some of your Advent practices look like?

How do they draw you into the quiet preparation for the Christ child?

 

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Dirt-Advent-Christmastide-Epiphany/dp/1482697459/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416502191&sr=8-1&keywords=good+dirt

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What are your markers?

I like to think of the Seasons of the Church as an opportunity to mark our lives by the life of Jesus. Everyone marks their lives by something.

Often as parents we mark our lives by the developmental stages of our children. Or we might mark our lives by a joyful and traumatic events. For one year, what would it look like to mark your life by the life of Jesus?

Our children are still going to develop, we will still have joy and trauma, but what would it look like to step back and see these markings within the vision of the life of Jesus?

Advent starts Sunday November 30th. You can purchase Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany here.

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Dirt-Advent-Christmastide-Epiphany/dp/1482697459/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415985946&sr=8-1&keywords=good+dirt

It can also be downloaded for free on our web site.

Here’s an excerpt from Good Dirt…

“In this devotional we are immersing our lives in the life of Jesus by celebrating the Seasons of the Church. Another way to say it is that we are marking our lives by the life of Jesus. The Christian Church began formally celebrating Easter as early as 325AD, and even before that Israel had seasons of fasting and feasting to mark their story with God throughout the ages. There is a great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. 

The seasons follow a pattern of preparation, celebration, and then living out what we have prepared for and celebrated. In Advent we prepare for God with us, at Christmastide we celebrate God with us, and during Epiphany we step into a life with God. In Lent we prepare for our own death and the death of Jesus, at Eastertide we celebrate that he died, is risen and us with him, and during Pentecost and Kingdomtide we live out his resurrection and ours.

We are meant to live seasonally. Who can feast all the time without becoming a glutton? Who can fast or mourn all the time without losing their mind? When our days lose the gift of thankfulness and celebration we become a depressed and dying people. As the physical seasons set the rhythm of the earth, so the church seasons can set our rhythm to the rhythm of Christ.”

So how about it?

One last word from Carlo Carretto, “To have found God, to have experienced him in the intimacy of our being, to have lived even for one hour in the fire of his Trinity and the bliss of his Unity clearly makes us say: ‘Now I understand. You alone are enough for me.'”

Seasons

I learn best through metaphor… so bear with me.

I live in Colorado where our lives are governed by seasons. We pray for winter snows to water our desert land where we plant crops in the spring to harvest in the summer and fall. Our crops freeze a lot of the time. Not only is there nothing we can do about it, we have to wait later in the year for the fruits of our labor or “borrow” someone else’s.  We have a dry season, a tourist season, a slow season, a harvest season, an apple season, monsoon season, yard sale season, fire season, color season, hunting season, calving/lambing season, football/basketball/baseball/soccer season, wildflower season… I could go on and on.

Each of these seasons have emotion attached to them. We anticipate the tourist season so we can pay our bills without sweat and tears. We fear fire season and its destructiveness. We wait ever so impatiently for monsoon season where we revel in 12% humidity during the rain storm.  We love calving/ lambing season as we watch the newborn babies learn to play but fear that there is still so much cold left until spring. We turn our tv satellite service on for football season and fiercely proclaim our allegiance to the Broncos. We yell and coach and try to rest up for our kids sports seasons. We love wildflower and color season as the colors are so vibrant and creative. Again, I could go on and on. As with all things natural I try to apply it to my spiritual journey.

As I dread the coming of winter in my physical self I feel myself dread the winter in my spirit too. But as I have learned to see beauty in cute boots and new snow I am training myself to see beauty in spiritual winter too. Learning to breathe with the seasons of the church has helped in this. The ordinary time does not mean God is far away. It means He is in the ordinary just as actively as He is in the celebrations. In my winter season I use more of the contemplative disciplines to practice his presence. I read. I meditate. I am quiet (yes during winter basketball season when I am the crazy coaching parent in the stands it is hard to visualize this…haha). It is this season where I love “Yard sale” season of the soul. I take something of someone else’s and make it my treasure. During the “monsoon” season of the soul I take in the rain from heaven and store it away. For me this looks like worship services or retreats etc. Where I am immersed in God for a period of time.

There are some seasons I am in now and I keep thinking “will this ever change?” or “I hope this never changes!”. I remind myself that God is always faithful to bring the next season. Winter always follows fall. But spring ALWAYS follows winter. This season too will pass. I will soon look back and say “that wasn’t so bad and went so quickly”. I take great solace in Ecclesiastes 3… There is a season for everything under the sun.  I recently saw a quote that read “The difference between a good [season] and a bad [season] is your attitude.” I am praying that my seasonal attitude will be to see Jesus in all seasons!