And so in the waiting, let us not get so wrapped up in the doing that we miss the joy of the presence and the peace that comes with simply making room for Him.
Advent is one of my favourite church seasons. I wished my Sunday school children a “Happy New Year” in class on Sunday because Advent marks the beginning of the church calendar year and yet another spin around the wheel of time, measured in this sacred and comforting way. The beautiful flow of anticipated waiting to the fulfillment of the promises of a loving and gracious Creator and Father of all. In the midst of it, there is great peace in the intentional rhythm of the seasons.
And so on Sunday, our family too, began our own journey into Advent. I had picked through my favourite Advent collections and stories, and other books for the journey. Some that we have read multiple times over the years, some that we never finished despite our best intentions, and some that we are looking forward to adding to our traditions. Not all of our books are religious in nature but all of them help us to slow down, savour this time together, and create special family memories around stories.
We lit the candles around the same wreath I’ve had for years and years and we read one section of each of the books that will be with us for the next month. It was lovely … and picturesque … well, except for the fact that my kids are as sick as dogs. One was running a fever and could barely keep his eyes open. There was a lot of nose blowing and coughing. Things were cut short to allow everyone to get snuggled into their beds. And you know what? It was perfectly imperfect.
Which also leads into why I am sharing my Advent readings three days into Advent rather than a week or two before … and on purpose.
Because while I love Advent and it has been a beautiful tradition for our family, Advent is NOT another demand to be made of you during what is already a rushed and busy time of year! It is not another thing to add to your to-do list. Observing it daily, with just the right amount of aesthetics and cookies and books or activities does not make for a more holy season.
Advent is a state of mind and of heart. It is a season of preparing room within ourselves for the coming of a Christ child that will forever change us in the deepest and most profound ways. Advent is a spiritual practice that opens our hearts to the beautifully unexpected ways of a most loving and gracious God.
Advent is not the wreath, the devotionals, or the perfect calendar. Those things are lovely and enriching but they are not what drives this season. They are merely tools.
The books and wreath and calendar that are now part of our family tradition have slowly tapered into our Advents over the years. Some years have been slow and savoured and other years have left us with a stack of unfinished books and a candle or two barely lit.
If starting an Advent tradition or staunchly keeping old ones, is merely going to add to your already overwhelming holiday to-do list, then please consider this your invitation to release it. Release it and give it God. Let the spirit of Advent be what guides you and not a sense of thriving or chasing.
Advent means “coming” … we wait for the coming. It is at the very core of the Christian faith that we believe we have been saved by what Christ has done for us and not by our own merit or works. And so in the waiting, let us not get so wrapped up in the doing that we miss the joy of the presence and the peace that comes with simply making room for Him.
And if that waiting includes all the pretty things, and hot chocolate and books, crafts and calendars, and lovely wreaths of purple and pink candles then by all means, let us savor them! But let us also remember the grace that comes in knowing that God meets us right where we are along the journey, wherever that may be. Perhaps it is in the quiet moments in between tending to sick children, or in the simple prayers spoken over meals, and the deep breathes taken while watching the winter sun set behind the trees. He is there, and yet he is coming and the journey with him is always more peaceful and soothing than any we might venture out on in and of our own strength.
In fact, it is precisely when we least expect it that God reveals his heart to us in ways that are both seemingly simple and yet profoundly grand. In the child in the manger, in the moments where we nurture others, in the songbird’s cheerful trill, in the hands held together in prayer, the smile of a stranger, and the quiet peace that comes when we release our cares to Him.
Many Advent Blessings to you and yours,