Here I am at 8:40am with already three hours of wakefulness under my belt, two of those spent with the kids. The fire is roaring in the fireplace, there’s a blanket of snow on the ground, Brannmann Sam (Fireman Sam) is playing in the background, and the coffee in my cup is just about ready for a refill. I’ve stolen away for a few brief moments to capture some of the stirrings of my heart.
Truth be told I am really enjoying the season we’ve entered in to. As most of you know, the flip of the calendar into the month of December means a lot to many throughout the world. I’m talking about more than decorations, gifts, parties, and great food…though all those things are fun. I’m talking about the intentional ‘waiting’ for His ‘coming’. Advent.
According to Wikipedia, advent is derived from the Latin word adventus which is a translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For me the significance of this time is recognizing Jesus’ first coming as we wait for and long for His return.
This year I feel at an interesting crossroad. I have spent a number of years looking into the rich history surrounding the first coming of Christ…the timing of his birth, the Jewish traditions, feasts and laws that He celebrated and fulfilled in His birth, death and resurrection. I have found myself awed and amazed at the accuracy of the Word of God and His commitment to fulfill all His promises. On the flip side I grew numb to the traditions of man that arrived apart from the Word of God…the seeming commercialization of all that man sets out to touch. Also, having lived in the Southern Hemisphere away from family and traditions that are rich in the Northern Hemisphere, and facing scorching temperatures in the months that I remembered as cold from childhood, I morphed and adapted to new customs, traditions and non-traditions.
And now I’m back in the Northern Hemisphere…and much further North than I’ve ever lived before. And suddenly things that I had deemed less important now seem different from this perspective. There is something special about setting aside the darkest month of the year to shine the most Light into our hearts. Personally I don’t believe that this is the month that Jesus was born. But I also don’t believe that there is anything wrong in letting the customs and traditions of this month propel my heart into lovesick longing and waiting for His return.
This is the second year in a row that our family has told the story of Jesus’ first coming with Ann Voskamp. And I love it! We start at the beginning…the ‘in the beginning’ beginning and weave our way through the story and His family tree. I feel my heart beats stronger with incredible gratitude for what Jesus has done and an intense aching for what He is yet to do. And as darkness creeps in all around, we as a family set our hearts before His living flame of love and seek to re-orientate our minds and hearts to His mind and His heart. We want to truly enjoy the winter and Christmas traditions in the country that is now our home, but we also don’t want to lose our hearts in the midst the frenzy and activity of this month.
We want to be near HIM. We want to slow down and remember. We want to slow down and desire His appearing. Without Him there is no life, no peace, no joy, no HOPE.
Our family’s prayer every night this week beginning on the first Sunday of Advent has been:
God of justice and peace,
from the heavens you rain down mercy and kindness,
that all on earth may stand in awe and wonder
before your marvelous deeds.
Raise our heads in expectation,
that we may yearn for the coming day of the Lord
and stand without blame before your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
We seek the mighty God
in the most unlikely places
as a child in a stable,
and in an empty tomb.
May God hear these prayers,
which come from the unlikely corners of our lives.
Give us ears to hear, O God,
and eyes to watch,
that we may know your presence in our midst
during this holy season of joy
as we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Amen.
your advent alarms us.
Wake us from drowsy worship,
from the sleep that neglects love,
and the sedative of misdirected frenzy.
Awaken us now to your coming,
and bend our angers into your peace. Amen.
(prayer excerpt taken from here)
I pray that for you and your family “the God of hope would fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. (Rom. 15:13)