When Advent Goes Awry
Let me be honest. Last week didn’t quite feel like Advent, or even previous times of "Christmas". Cold, rainy weather roared into town with a vengeance over the weekend, canceling plans and evoking a powerful hibernation urge. The Second Sunday of Advent for me was hard – my mood less than loving with actions to match - most of Sunday’s service was spent repeating the confession and being thankful for absolution. We even failed to light our own second candle Sunday evening as our little family was split in two directions (Kenz and I attending her last choir class; Joshua, Judah, and Olivia spending time with family in town) and then Judah split his face in two while running pell-mell around sharp corners.
We ate breakfast on Monday morning, as usual, in the dining room – sharing space with our Advent wreath. The one with an unlit second candle. A looming accusation of our failure. Quite the reminder, as it turns out, that we so desperately need Advent and the perfect, redeeming King whose coming we await. My hope for the second week of Advent was that we would settle into a routine, what occurred were unexpected injuries (Olivia split her head open Monday afternoon, never one to be outdone by a bigger brother), unexpected overnight house guests, and an unexpected change in plans for our “family outing” on Saturday. Can I tell you a secret I uncovered this past week? Christ’s coming is undiminished by our lack of acknowledgment and/or celebration.
Decking the Halls wk.2
Our best-laid plans included taking our Advent celebration public – stringing lights outside for evening illumination and hanging large ornaments on the trees in our front yard. As of Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) we officially became the “Grinch” on our street – being the only house with no lights or visible signs of Christmas cheer (our door wreath has very little visibility from the street). We DID however, get a tree. To celebrate Advent we are only lighting the tree with while lights and leaving it bare of ornaments until Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the ornaments will be unpacked and added to the tree, as well as colorful light strands (which we sneakily strung at the same time as the white lights, but kept unplugged).
In addition to lighting candles, singing carols, and reading scripture passages, our nightly observance includes those darling chocolate window calendars – one for each child. This is Olivia’s first year to participate, and she took to it like a champ! Bringing sweetness to our celebration of Advent, this small taste of chocolate keeps anticipation high for the kiddos and makes them advocates for nightly worship times. Although it doesn’t exactly follow our Advent celebration (starting on December 1st rather than the first Sunday), we have benefited from its incorporation and I dare say will continue the practice for as long as the kids continue to be motivated by chocolate!
The practice of Advent this week for our little family included welcoming guests, mourning loss with friends, rejoicing in the adoption finalization of a niece, and lighting two Advent candles every evening we had the opportunity to do so. We purchased a real Christmas tree (my first ever), attended a Christmas presentation at my in-law’s church, and talked about - but never actually accomplished – putting lights up in our bushes and hanging ornaments on our little live oak grove in the front yard. To me, Advent felt more peripheral. It has spurred reflection on how Advent ought to affect us this season, particularly when plans go awry. How can the truth penetrate our being as much as our doing? I hope to wrestle with this throughout Advent, and the majority of the Advents to come.
Please join me and the clan as we continue to anticipate the coming of our Lord and Savior! Until next week, may the Light of Advent increase as we draw ever nearer to the Celebration of Christ's Birth.