Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent

[what's brewing: anticipation]

Thanksgiving has now passed, which in my family signals the official start of the Christmas season. Decorating can now begin, Christmas music can rightfully be played and sadly, waist lines will begin to expand. While in years past I may have been jumping into December with memories of the savory Thanksgiving meal and perfectly crisped pecan pie in mind, this year we are remembering the seasoned pork, fried rice, lemon soaked vegetables and mashed potatoes that were thoughtfully and graciously prepared for us by our national workers in honor of our national holiday. I giggled quietly to myself this past Thursday when presented with my plate of Thanksgiving dinner. I found myself affirming the old saying, “It’s the thought that counts,” as I saw the look of satisfaction on their faces.

Beyond the decorations, music, and holiday goodies, the passing of Thanksgiving also signifies the approach of Advent, the highlight of the Christmas season for me. As a little girl I was always eager to begin our Advent calendar on December 1st. I could not wait to begin opening the little windows hidden within the Christmas scene to uncover the verses concealed behind them. My siblings and I took turns opening the windows each morning, and every year I exercised all the restraint I had to willingly go last so that the rotation would allow me to open the window on my birthday in mid-December. I felt so lucky to have been born in December; I couldn’t imagine having to watch someone else open the advent calendar window on my special day.

My memories of the waiting and eager anticipation to open those little windows each morning are the best description I have of the anticipation and waiting for our Savior that Advent calls us to. I confess that while my intellectual appreciation for His coming (and eventual return) has increased as I have matured, the experience of truly waiting for and anticipating His coming has diminished. The passage of time somehow stole my sense of wonder over the Christmas miracle as I grew up, as if tied to my belief in Santa Claus that was never abruptly shattered but slowly lost its charm. And now after all these years, I cannot seem to recreate the enchanting sense of wonder I felt as a child as I waited and waited for the day we could open the window and find Jesus waiting inside.

Oh, to be given a chance to go back and relive those 24 days of December as a child, enchanted with the story of God coming to earth as a baby, born into a manger, surrounded by barn animals while shepherd’s followed the brilliant star to worship the swaddled little baby.

I find myself praying each year that God would restore that child-like wonder, even if just for a moment. I want to be captivated by the story again and to live in eager anticipation of His return. Advent is a time to be captivated once again by the birth of Jesus, heightened now by a longing for His return to bring an end to the evil and suffering that have scarred the face of humanity. It’s a time to remember the tension we are living in as we celebrate our freedom in Christ and wait for Him to come and reconcile the world to Himself again.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

(editor's note: Coffeegirl's birthday is December 12...I thought you ought to know)

10 comments:

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

I love hearing Advent traditions in each persons home. Our church has an advent children's program for the kids in the community. We have an advent book our family goes through. And, of course, an Advent calendar. I do love this time of year - and I too have a birthday in December (my husband does too!).

Shilo said...

My husband and I are hoping to do the Jesse tree this year with our three year old (if you haven't heard of it - check out www.ourjessetree.blogspot.com). I'm already a day behind but hopefully today I will be able to get what I need for the project!
It has been so fun to see it all through his eyes so far (the nativity, the tree, etc)...brings back that wonder you are talking about.
Blessings to you today!

jpierce said...

Coffeegirl I can so identify with the loss of wonder associated with Christmas. For me I still had it when my children were little and it was so easy to please them and teach them the real meaning of Christmas. Now, can you believe it, I am not the boss of Christmas celebrations and I find it hard to recapture the wonder of it all. I think it helps to have a heart and mind focused on eternal things-- our life after all the sad and ruined things in this world. Good to be part of God's efforts, isn't it? Thanks, Coffeegirl. JP

Duane and Carin said...

I have leaarned to love Advent as an adult, my family did not observe it when I was a child. I now enjoy it with my children.

Shan in Japan said...

I was so surprised when I moved to a southern state from the upper midwest to find that my Sunday School class knew nothing about advent! I brought my wreath in and taught them all about it every week.
When I was little my mom made an advent calendar out of felt. Each day we put an ornament on the tree after we read the verse for the day.
Now, on the mission field, I am teaching my friends about advent and the anticipation of waiting for Jesus.
Yes, come Lord Jesus, come!

Alan & Beth McManus said...

Is there a website or instructions somewhere for the advent wreath? I've so wanted to do it, but have no idea where to begin. The wreath itself is the easy part, it's the stories and verses that I wonder about.

Duane and Carin said...

Beth,
Here is a link to a website that shows you how to make a Jesse tree with all the scripture and ornaments you will need. I did this last year with my two seven year olds and it was really neat to go throught the whole Christmas story with them.
http://www.shalfleet.net/advent/makeajessetree.htm

Blessings,
Carin

malianta said...

Well - I find it hard to believe, but thanks to your blog I "found" my Advent calendar at the right time. ;-) For many years I always came across it when it was not Advent, and so I put it away again. When it was Advent I usually forgot about it. But it moved with me from place to place. This year I will finally use it. :-) Today I have opened the first windows ...

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

It's great to read about your tradition. We're spending our first "cross-cultural" Christmas this year, and the severe change in weather is making it hard to feel like the holiday is coming. You've given me some ideas about new traditions we can start.

malianta said...

and for those who don't have an advent calendar: here is one online - http://www.paperlesschristmas.com/

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