Advent — Take 3

For this week, I thought I would do a little throwback to pre-Covid; to an earlier, simpler time before pandemics, mask-wearing and mass vaccinations. This post was originally posted in November 2018. Apparently, it was so good, I reposted it again in December of 2020. So, you’ll forgive me if I indulge you again in my great literary skills. As we enter this year’s advent season, the principles still stand. Maybe the thought of “preparation” and “waiting” is even more prevalent for us today. I’ve added some thought-provoking questions I found from a devotional of Will Graham on the topic of Mary. Y’all know I love Mary’s character. As always, I love to hear from you. How about telling me about your advent season? Be blessed this week, my friends!

image by Kelly Sikkema (unsplash)

I hate waiting.  I hate waiting in line, I hate waiting for my food to be cooked, I hate waiting for the kids to get out of school.  I just don’t like sitting around with nothing to do when something else should be happening.  I bring books or snacks or my phone or a crochet project on long car rides because my hands need to be doing something (or else I crash into a nap… which is a whole other story).

So, when I discovered that the real meaning of Advent was anticipatory waiting… I wasn’t too keen.  I don’t think many of us are good at waiting.  Have you noticed that radio stations are playing Christmas music already?!  The stores have been in Christmas mode since the day after Halloween!  The marketers out there certainly don’t like waiting!  They want us to be spending our dough faster and faster these days… no waiting!  Order now!  Direct ship!  Buy online!  Available 24 hours, seven days a week!  

Let’s step back for a minute. In case you are not familiar with the term “advent”… it is a traditional practice of the Christian church to anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas, and then, in turn, His final return to earth.  Similar to the practice of Lent before Easter, it gives us a chance to slow down, think and ponder, and hope for the future.  It’s something I have to work on… this waiting.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.  The ones with the little doors you would open every day from December first until the 25th.  Back then, I didn’t understand what it meant… I simply enjoyed the treats every day!  Later, we began to celebrate the four Sundays of Advent at our church.  It was then, that I understood the symbolism, the tradition, and the true meaning of the practice.   It is something I have come to cherish as an adult.  It’s a discipline that that reminds me to slow down, to appreciate my family, to encourage my church family, and to rejoice in the season — and not to be so caught up in the rush of the “stuff”.  It forces me to focus each week on learning to wait.  To anticipate.  To revel in the beauty of hope.

Here’s what I have learned about the traditional advent symbolism:  it begins with an evergreen wreath… the symbol of a circle of eternity.  Our Christ is timeless.  He’s been around much longer than the babe in the manger.  Surrounding the wreath are four candles and one central candle.  Each candle is lit on the four Sundays of Advent and culminates with the lighting of the white, central candle, which is lit on Christmas eve.  This central candle is sometimes referred to as the Christ candle… and represents His purity and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  

The first candle is purple.  It represents “hope” and the prophecies that Isaiah spoke about when He described the coming of our special Christmas baby.  The second purple candle represents love and is sometimes referred to as the Bethlehem candle or the manger candle.  So much love happened in that lowly stable… I imagine my own beloveds and how the whole world fell away the moment they were born and I saw them for the first time face to face.   Can you imagine Mary’s first glance at her special baby?  Yup, love for sure.  The next candle is pink… and represents joy.   It is the shepherd’s candle.  It embodies the joy and celebration the shepherds must have felt when they were given the good news that a Saviour had been born!  The last candle is also purple and reminds us to be peaceful.   This “angel” candle points us to worship, to reflect, and to remember that the season is not about gifts under a tree, but the ultimate gift given to us.  The One the angels were made for… simply to worship for eternity.  

The following is taken from Will Graham’s book, In the Presence of the King.

“And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.’” —Luke 1:46-49, NKJV

After her initial response {of fear}, Mary embraces her calling as the earthly mother of Jesus. In what is called “The Song of Mary” (Luke 1:46-55), we see a young woman who considers herself blessed, who rejoices!

Of course, the story doesn’t end there, and things don’t get any easier. Mary, at the end of her pregnancy, must endure the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, at the end of which she delivers the Christ child in a manger.

As you enter this Advent season, maybe this year hasn’t gone how you planned. Maybe you expected your life to be much different than it is. Perhaps you’re even mad at God and blame Him for your circumstances. In what ways has the past year been a struggle? How have you seen God work through your situation? Are you able to worship Jesus amid the challenges?

So… as you prepare for your Christmas season, and you rush out here and there, be reminded of the advent tradition of waiting.  Take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas… Christ’s coming.  Anticipate through hope, love, joy and peace, and the pure and holy sacrifice that Christ paid for you.  May you be blessed, my beloveds, as we journey towards the holidays together.   Take time to rejoice in waiting.  Oh… it shall be no easy task!  Especially if there are Christmas cookies in the oven! But we can practice it together, shall we?

2 thoughts on “Advent — Take 3

  1. Waiting Still

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Quietly, patiently,
    be still my soul

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Silently, listening,
    here I am Lord

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Deeply, completely,
    resting in Him

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Calmly, trusting,
    knowing He’s here

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Father, teach me,
    Spirit, lead me

    Waiting… still,
    still… waiting;
    Jesus help me
    to… wait still,
    still waiting

    I wrote this several years ago. Waiting still… this is the opportunity we have during Advent. Thank you Kim!

    Like

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