Savor the Season of Advent

And just like that – it’s Advent!  The season of Advent sounds like a wish list of everything we can dream about. Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love – who doesn’t need those gifts?

Advent comes every year and yet somehow this year it seems especially important.  Perhaps it is the non-stop litany of worrisome headlines. There is plenty of bad news out there. Maybe it’s the isolation and the “don’t have family gatherings” thing.

Whatever the reason, the promises of Advent seem to take on new meaning:

  • The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light  (Isaiah 9:2)
  • Comfort, comfort my people (Isaiah 40:1)
  • God is Emmanuel, always with us (Matthew 1: 21-23)
  • Do not be afraid (Luke 2:10)
  • I bring you good news of great joy (Luke 2:10)
  • Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

       Here is my advice about Advent – cherish these precious four weeks. Don’t let this short, powerful season slip by. Give yourself the gift of Advent this year. We need that sense of anticipation and promise and hope. We need the comfort and assurance. We need the reminder that God shows up where God is most needed.

It’s easy to forget those things.

So – this year, be intentional about celebrating Advent.

There are so many ways you can do that. Find one (or more) that work for you:

  • Light a candle and recall God’s promise to be with us – always.
  • Notice something beautiful every day. A sunrise, a bird, a friend, whatever – just notice. Then take a moment and describe it.
  • Be a bearer of light – make a phone call, send an email, write a card, bake cookies, send flowers – share some of God’s love.
  • Say one of the Scripture promises out loud every day.
  • Think of three things you are thankful for.  Say them out loud and give thanks for those blessings.
  • Join us for worship each Sunday at 10:00 a.m. on Facebook Live – or watch the recording on our YouTube channel.
  • Join our weekly Advent vesper services on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm for a brief time of prayer, music, and reflection.  Contact the church for the Zoom link.

  Advent is a love story about God’s love for each one of us. To know that you are loved and cherished is a gift. Take the time to savor the comfort of Advent blessings.

Do-it-yourself Advent

Long before Thanksgiving Day, it was Christmas in all the stores. My husband shopped in vain for harvest-colored candles and autumn napkins for our Thanksgiving celebration. That unfortunate holiday of gratitude had been relegated to a meager shelf in the corner of the store. In every aisle, as far as the eye could see, the displays proudly proclaimed CHRISTMAS.

But wait. It isn’t Christmas yet. It is Advent, a season that is all about waiting. Advent is about transition and change. It is about waiting for what will be, but is not yet. Advent is a very human, unsettled season when things have not yet fallen into place. You have probably experienced Advent without ever naming it. If you have

  • Anxiously searched for a job
  • Moved
  • Cared for a sick loved one
  • Prayed for someone in recovery
  • Or even (like Mary) been pregnant

then you know about Advent. Advent invites us to remember God’s promise to be with us exactly when God is needed most.

Like Thanksgiving, Advent is also not being sold in any store. Fortunately, Advent is easily celebrated in the comfort of our own homes. Think of it as a gift to yourself in this busy season; Advent can offer an antidote to the frenetic pace of endless Christmas. We can pause, light a candle, and reflect on God’s hope and presence.

I would like to encourage you to rest your weary spirit this Advent season by creating your own Advent ritual. You don’t even need a traditional “wreath.” Any five candles will do. Size, shape, and color don’t matter. Electric candles are fine. Arrange them any way you like – in a wreath, a square, vertically – it’s up to you.

I went to our local Goodwill store to find ways to create my Advent display. Everything pictured here cost $10.

Advent begins on December 2nd. On that first Sunday of Advent, light one candle and reflect on how even the smallest light can entirely change the reality of darkness. During the week, find opportunities to light that candle again. Whether you celebrate Advent as you eat your breakfast cereal or just before you go to bed doesn’t matter. What is important is intentionally making time to pause and remember that God promises to be “Emmanuel,” which means “always with us.”

During the first week of Advent, you are invited to

LIGHT a candle. Consider how you can be a messenger of hope.

READ Scripture: Isaiah 9: 2-7, Luke 1: 5-25, Matthew 1: 18-26.  Don’t have a Bible?  You can read any Scripture here.

PRAY for those who need hope today.

LISTEN  to a favorite Advent or Christmas song (and try to sit down while you do this; don’t multi-task. Cherish a few moments and fill your spirit with beauty).

I wish you the hope and joy of Advent.