If there are kids in your life, and you’re keen on celebrating Advent at home, then you’re probably pretty set by now. Calendars or candles are on the go, and maybe the pile of Christmas picture books is being devoured.
Now it’s the adults’ turn. And it’s time to move from Pinterest and To Do Lists to trying to be present in the waiting moments.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, when the social side of Christmas brings its own lists and stressors.
So here are some useful, thought-and-prayer-provoking places around the interweb that might help you to focus on your own Advent journey this year. I’m providing some extracts, but not only are they part of bigger pieces at each site, in most cases these bloggers or sites are posting throughout Advent, so you may like to sign up on your favourites to see new material as it is published.
Here’s a great start, from Watch for the Light, for anyone who comes to Advent in a busy, breathless state:
Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit. It’s 12:00am on the first of December and I’ve messed Advent up already. I’ve begun it all wrong. I’ve dropped my lamp and the oil’s spilled everywhere, if there was oil in it to begin with. 12:01am. O it’s the gnashing of teeth and the outer darkness for me, underdressed and giftless for the Christ-Child, locked out of the feast by bouncers with flaming swords.
Come Lord Jesus, even to us, the unprepared. The foolish. The tea-less and the desperate, the constantly-failing and the stumbling-over-days, the people walking in darkness who have seen a great light and wonder blearily whether they’ve reached the drive-through for the nearest McDonalds. Advent is our season, in our desperation and longing, in our mess and our foolishness, in the empty lamps and the shut doors and the sickness, time used badly, life used badly, things begun wrong. We live in the space between leaving home and coming home, the threshholds where we wait and whine and batter against doors that won’t open and answers that don’t come, where we grieve and long and light candles and put them out again, throwing shadows across all the things we’ve broken…
[Read more beautiful language at Watch for the Light.]
Sarah Bessey is a beautiful writer about important things:
As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days.
[Read more at Sarah Bessey’s site.]
Creighton Online Ministries has a whole bunch of resources for adults, for all through the year. Here’s a peek at some of their Advent material:
Our work is to become who we are. Advent is a humble season, a season of self-awareness. To say it another way, before we decorate our homes for Christmas, we have to clear away some of the false masks we might wear. These made up identities help us be more “presentable” to others, and at times they even fool us. When I look in the mirror, which “me” do I see? There is nothing wrong with putting our best foot forward in public, and it is quite understandable when we want others to see our best selves. But, before our own consciences and before God, we want to be transparent and real. We want to have no illusion. If there is struggle in my life – and there has to be some struggle in all our lives – then we want to acknowledge that before our God and to let that struggle be the door into Advent’s graces.
[Read more at Creighton Online Ministries.]
American writer Christena Cleveland is a new and exciting discovery for me this week, thanks to Twitter. Specialising in social psychology, faith and reconciliation, she writes profoundly, in the middle of the pain of Ferguson, of Advent as a time of darkness:
Jesus entered a world plagued not only by the darkness of individual pain and sin, but also by the darkness of systemic oppression. Jesus’ people, the Hebrews, were a subjugated people living as exiles in their own land; among other things, they were silenced, targets of police brutality, and exploitatively taxed. They were a people so beaten down by society that only a remnant – most notably Anna and Simeon – continued to believe that the Messianic prophecies would one day come to pass. For many, the darkness of long-standing oppression had extinguished any hope for liberation.
It was into this “worst world” that the Light-in-which-We-See-Light was born, liberating the people from the terror of darkness. So it is in the midst of our worst world that we, too, can most clearly see the Light, for light shines more brightly against a backdrop of true darkness.
Advent is an invitation to plunge into the deep, dark waters of our worst world, knowing that when we re-surface for air we will encounter the hopeful, hovering Spirit of God. For when we dive into the depths of our worst world, we reach a critical point at which our chocolate and pageants no longer satiate our longing for hope – and we are liberated by this realization. Indeed, the light of true hope is found in the midst of darkness.
[Read more from Christena Cleveland.]
Christine Sine from the Godspace site is hosting a series called Come to the Manger, which I’m hoping to contribute to later in the month. Here’s how she introduces the theme:
The question that stirs in my mind is: Who is welcome at the manger? Who else do we invite to this celebration that may otherwise be ignored or excluded – the prostitutes, the sex traffickers, those in prison, people of other racial backgrounds, other religions, other sexual persuasions, the poor and the homeless, even those we are estranged from. Do we think there is a place for everyone at the manger? If so how do we extend that invitation so that these people feel welcome?
[Read more at Godspace.]
Is there anyone else you are following through Advent? This year, more than any other before, bloggers worldwide seem to be embracing Advent and offering thoughts to help us all focus on this season of waiting and hoping. I’d love to hear of others you know of. I’ve had some great responses to this question on Facebook, so will do another post next week, and am keen to keep hearing what you are discovering.
My main contribution this year aimed at adults – though also appropriate for kids – is following Mark Pierson’s Advent in Art reflections. You can see the first post, on this painting by He Qi, here.
Please feel free to keep in touch with Sacraparental throughout Advent by following Sacraparental on Facebook (daily extras), signing up for email updates (the box at the top right) and/or following me on Pinterest (the Advent board will be particularly relevant just now!).
And please leave your ideas, recommendations and links in the comments below. Or just say hi :).