So, the relatively new-found Presbyterian in me (of course, I say that tongue-and-cheek since I work for a non-denominational church now!) decided this would be the year: the year I do my own daily Advent readings. The year I intentionally set aside time every day to not lose Christmas under a pile of wrapping paper. Not that Presbyterians are the only ones to celebrate Advent--it's just that before I attended Presbyterian churches, all I knew of Advent was the calendar full of chocolate my grandparents gave me every year.
I'm loving this new Advent rhythm. Every morning, I snuggle back under the covers, post-shower, with my Bible and read the morning Advent Scripture for the day. Every evening, I lounge on my couch in front of my five-foot Balsam Fir and meditate on the evening Scripture. It's a sweet tradition that is melting away the stress and distraction of the day. (Kind of like the daily chocolate from those Advent calendars!) I'm beginning to relax into the presence of God as I ponder His coming. Slowly, He's preparing my heart for Christmas.
But Advent isn't all about relaxing. Actually, it's more about anticipating. I love how Lauren Winner puts it in Girl Meets God:
"It's Advent, the weeks before Christmas, which means we are waiting for Jesus. It is the season of expectation, of being primed and pumped, the season during which you are supposed to cultivate longing for Him, the type of longing you feel when your beloved has been out of town for three weeks but you know he is coming home tonight.
"Every creative attempt to make the season meaningful, to steal it back inside the church, away from the shopping malls and cheesy radio stations, has been tried, and most of those creative attempts have proved wanting. Perhaps the problem is that we don't know what the meaning of this holiday, of Jesus' pushing into the world, is. If we did, we wouldn't have to worry about consumerism; if we knew what the Incarnation meant, we'd be so preoccupied with awe that we wouldn't notice all the shopping."
So that's my goal this year. To really get at the Incarnation. To anticipate not only Christmas, but also the Second Coming of my King in a fresh way. To know that all the shopping, baking, and wrapping is small fries compared to the glory of this God who made Himself small for me. Like chomping on an Oscar Myer wiener when there's a banquet waiting.
John 1:1-2, 14
To read the Advent Scripture along with me this year, check out my adaptation of a 2005 Advent calendar (below) that I found on reformationtheology.com. Advent Readings 2009
I've also made it available on the Walnut Hill Youth page for our students and adult leaders.