Advent Begins — Living on a Visited Planet

Today, Advent began in our family.

Advent begins with preparing our home. And, I hope in the process, that it also means I am preparing my heart.

I have a general goal of beginning Christmas preparation the day after Thanksgving. We had a friend visiting, and lots of laundry to finish sorting, so it didn’t happen until today, Sunday, after house church in the late afternoon.

Eric and I pulled everything out of the upstairs closet and the outside shed, and began. Eric will be out of town for a few days, so he worked long after dark getting the outside lights and decorations up. (Some real photos will come later – here’s him at work!)

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Although it’s going to take a few days in the midst of our busy schedule to get the tree decorated and everything out of the boxes, it was great fun today to see the kids sense of — awe — as the outdoor lights went up, and various Christmas decor came out of the boxes…
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And then…the great joy when they were finally able to watch Frosty the Snowman again, after waiting eleven months for him to emerge out of the Christmas box. (Annie has been asking EVERY DAY for about a month now when Christmas will begin…)
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For me, too, there is a sense of wonder as the memories and tangled lights and snowpeople and more memories come out of their stored places. The winking Santa pitcher that my grandmother – now deceased — made a good fifty years ago… the nativity set I brought back from the Dominican Republic while on a short-term missions trip…the individually wrapped ornaments that Eric and I have diligently been finding each year on our December anniversary wherever we might be…so many precious treasures from here and there.

I am thankful to be so surrounded by the wonder of little children this season. But I also recognize that their wonder — and mine as well- may often be misdirected. All of us need help in keeping focus on the REALITY of this season. I am very excited about a book I just received from my friend Mary, called “Watched for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.” It began yesterday, with daily readings by many wonderful writers and thinkers. This will help, as I will need to choose where I place my wonder; and what I am waiting for.

J.B. Phillips, the New Testament translator, writes about Advent:
“That is why, behind all our fun and games at Christmastime, we should not try to escape a sense of awe, almost a sense of fright, at what God has done. We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.
We shall be celebrating no beautiful myth, no lovely piece of traditional folklore, but a solemn fact. God has been here once historically, but, as millions will testify, he will come again with the same silence and the same devestating humility into any human heart ready to receive him.”

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