It’s Always The Sleepers

I have a confession. Hark the Herald Angels Sing gets me every year. I mean you expect The Messiah to be incredibly moving, even O Come O Come Emanuel but Hark the Herald seems kind of innocuous. And the first verse is but then that hard hitting second verse comes along and it’s all over. 

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

 

I think the four lines 

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

sum up the power of the incarnation better than any other. And every year they hit me when I am least expecting it. Like an unexpectedly snowy afternoon when my babies are napping and I am seizing a few quiet moments to knit and listen to Pandora,  then bam! that happy angel carol comes on and the weight of eternity is in that moment. And God’s presence just bursts into the day unexpectedly but in a way that cannot be ignored. I am so thankful that every Christmas in those quiet moments God shows up and transforms the ordinary into the divine. It is my favorite part of Christmas. 

Tradition

Well the Turkey has been eaten. The turkey soup is simmering on the stove. And my thoughts turn of course to Christmas. I love Christmas. I love the tradition. I love the way the whole world gets quiet for a moment. I love all of the traditions that we had built into my growing up years and the ones I am building and continuing with my babies. And I unabashedly love advent.

Not a watered down advent that celebrates a piece of chocolate before breakfast or the advent that adds even more activity to a season bursting at the seams. But, instead choose to celebrate advent in a way that turns my heart and mind to the Christ child.

I feel a need to put in a bit of a caveat here. Chocolate before breakfast is awesome. Awesome. I love it. I am just really sad that advent has been reduced to advent calendars, fun activities and daily crafts when it can be so much more.

In the historical church calendar advent is a time of penance and preparation. Today in our culture the entire Christmas season is a season of excess. It seems like our entire culture screams more, more, more. In the midst of all of this excess I would like to create a space for reflection and self introspection. To allow advent to become an anchor in the midst of the craziness that surrounds us. A moment of connection to that day so long ago to a chaotic time when a tiny baby was born without pomp and circumstance and changed the world forever. A connection to that moment when God put on flesh and lived with us.

My mom had this same sentiment when we were children. Every year she pulled out the handmade advent wreath. And starting four Sundays before Christmas we would have a nightly advent reading and we would light the advent candles according to the appropriate week. The first week was prophecy and we would light a purple candle, the second week we added a second purple candle and it was Bethlehem week, The third week we added a rose colored candle and it is the shepherd week. The final week was a purple candle and it was the Angel week. Then on Christmas day all of the candles were changed to red candles and we added a final candle in the center a white candle to celebrate the arrival of Jesus. I have this very specific memory of her reading from Isaiah, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” I looked forward to watching the single candle flicker and hearing those words every year.

I want to continue this tradition but of course tweak it just a bit. I have young children. My oldest is five my youngest is two and I want each of them to enter into the story in a meaningful way. So it is my goal to try to find things from their lives in order to connect them to the Christmas story. To be completely honest I am not a hundred percent sure how I am going to accomplish this task every day. It feels monumental and it is one of those moments when I am painfully aware that if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up and speak to my children it will be trite and rote and the complete opposite of what I long to have them experience.

I would love for you to join us as we navigate our way through the advent season and I would love to hear what it means for you and how your family is celebrating. I know there are tons of resources out there. Let us come and prepare our hearts and turn our minds to our King.