Expectant Waiting

“What the heck is Advent?”  This was not the question that I expected on December 1st when we started this adventure of living by the seasons of the church.  But I could tell that my 13 year old was sincere.  I had clearly not explained it to her in the way that I thought I had.

I grew up in a Presbyterian church on Sunday and an Episcopal school during the week.  I understood the seasons of the church because I lived them.  So when Genevieve was a very little girl it seemed a natural fit to take a job as the Children’s Ministries Director at the Episcopal Church that we were attending.  Since Gen was only a year old and she tagged along with me, I took for granted that most of what I was teaching and doing was sinking in the way it did for me growing up.  I was wrong.

So that first night we had a crash course in Advent.  Advent simply means “coming”.    I explained that the entire Christmas season is to be a time of celebration and planning for the advent, or coming, of Jesus.  After a little discussion, my daughter looked at me and said, “We are waiting for Him, just like Mary waited for Him.”  She got it.

My favorite definition calls it “a time of expectant waiting”.  Doesn’t that bring the absolute beauty of the season home?  Especially for a mother?  Can’t we just imagine those 9 long months that Mary spent waiting for the birth of her baby?  The baby she was told would be “Christ, the Lord”. Little more that a child herself she would be giving birth to the One who would one day deliver those who would choose to believe in Him.

In my home we are reveling in this time of expectant waiting.  We anticipate our daily Scripture readings.  I anxiously await hearing from Genevieve how she welcomed Jesus that day or how the meaning of the message we shared really hit her as she was with friends or as she was sitting in her Bible study class.  And my absolute favorite part of the day is when I hear my sweet Charlie’s voice whispering in my ear the words “We welcome your light, Lord Jesus” each night when we light our candle.  She is a girl of few words and so these feel especially sweet coming from her.

Already, after just one week, this is becoming a treasured part of our day.  This time to slow down, to remember, to reflect on the words spoken by our Savior is changing us.  This season feels more poignant than it has before.  And my prayers are focused on asking that we will be more accountable, more faithful and more hopeful for the coming of the Second Advent.

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Thank You for the Fallow Land

Fisher Peak - Cranbrook, BC. Photo © Charis @ www.charispsallo.wordpress.com, used by permission.

Fisher Peak – Cranbrook, BC. Photo © Charis @ http://www.charispsallo.wordpress.com, used by permission.

From Tamara:

I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of BC, which means that I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. Since my birthday is on the 6th of the same month, we were often combining events. That really wasn’t such a bad deal—I mean, who doesn’t want loads of food and friends at their party—except that this weekend was also just the right time for harvesting the garden. It was pretty much guaranteed that I would spend my birthday Saturday out in our 4 acre potato field bagging potatoes. I want to say that I don’t remember grumbling and complaining about all the hard work. I want to say that this was all part and parcel of growing up in the country and I knew I was blessed beyond words to have the work, food, good seasons and money from selling all those potatoes. But I don’t think I was as sweet as I want to remember. To this day, I wake up on my birthday and feel a sort of dread about the garden needing to be dug up. To. this. day.

Several years of digging up potatos, though, means it’s time for fallow. The waiting. The building up nutrients and restoring. As far as digging up the garden on my birthday weekend is concerned, I’ve been fallowed for a long, long time. That garden land belongs to someone else now. But I’ve gained something great in all these years of fallow—a deep-rooted gratefulness. I’m grateful for the hard work my parents made me participate in. And I’m grateful for the waiting they sowed into my heart. I remember working with my dad through evenings that never seemed to end. Would we ever make it in for dinner? “I’m going back from another load”, he’d say. The stillness of the country night would surround me as I waited.

There’s something about waiting that resonates with me. I’d say that waiting was taught to me. Waiting was part of life’s early lessons. My dad taught me the most about this. Waiting can offer the time you need to come up with some great, imaginative stories. Waiting can be quiet. Waiting can be slow. Waiting can be cold. Waiting can be lonely. Waiting can be full of discovery. Waiting can be peaceful. Waiting can wake up your senses—or put them to sleep. What treasures I’ve found in waiting! I’m grateful for the lessons and the time I was given to appreciate the gift.

Because we celebrated Thanksgiving so early in the fall, I never used to relate Thanksgiving with Advent. But I have always related waiting with Advent—and I’m thankful for both.