Archive for December 7th, 2018


12.7.18 … “ This is Advent — when as sleepers we awaken to our own light of love deep within us, waiting to be reborn again in the dark stables of our own souls.”

Christmas Tradition # 5: Advent Wreaths, Calendars and Devotionals

I may have mentioned that Advent and Lent and other seasons in the liturgical calendar, and for that matter, the liturgical calendar, were not part of my Christian heritage. I grew up in a large downtown Presbyterian church in Atlanta GA. Back then, the observance of Advent, and Lent, for that matter, was reserved for my high church Catholic and Episcopalian friends. In all honesty, many of their traditions seemed haughty and even silly. But in the late 80s, several Presbyterian national organizations merged to form what is now called PC(USA). So after that point, in the late 80s and early 90s, my PC(USA) church introduced Advent and Lent. And with that came Advent wreaths, calendars and daily devotionals and other things to engage congregants in the season of preparation for the arrival of Christ.

I very slowly adopted Advent. I began preparing an advent wreath for my home, and I lit the candles several times during each week. My PC(USA) church in Wilmette IL was much farther along on this path of incorporating Advent into the church year, so that my four years there pushed me into not only including it, but embracing it. It was at that time that I begin saving the Christmas cards that arrived each day and placing them near the wreath. Each night we read a devotional as a family and lit the appropriate candles, and then we read the cards that had come.

With the modern Internet era, I now receive multiple daily advent readings but almost no Christmas cards. So I’m having to adjust what I thought had become a tradition.

And a good friend gave me my second advent “wreath,” the one in the box. I now have two and it makes my day when I remember to light the candles and read from my collection of devotionals.

I found this history of Advent helpful in understanding the tradition of Advent.

“‘Advent’ means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again.”

Source: Presbyterian Mission Agency Advent | The Christian Year | Presbyterian Mission Agency,

And I laugh at the term “liturgically sophisticated protestants.” (Sounds nicer than “haughty” high church Episcopalians and Catholics)

“Liturgically sophisticated Protestants, such as Lutherans and Episcopalians, generally are familiar with Advent, but many have just the slightest understanding of this season.”

But this concept of the writer was a nice nuance to my Advent observance:

“As I decided to let the experience of forced waiting [waiting in line at Costco] be a moment of Advent reflection rather than a cause for getting an ulcer, I found my anger quickly drain away. Waiting in line at Costco became, not a trial to be endured, but a moment of grace. And get this: I even found myself thanking God for the chance to slow down a bit and wait. This was, indeed, a miracle.

By the time I got to check out, my heart was peaceful, even joyous. I felt as if I had discovered hidden treasure.”

Source: What is Advent? An Introduction to Advent – Mark D. Roberts,

This was also helpful: The History of Advent :: Catholic News Agency,

And from this is a great article relating advent to pagan festivals celebrating Winter Solstice.

“But when I began to study the ancient Celtic tradition, and its keen awareness of humanity’s deep, inner connections with the rhythms of the natural world, I began to slowly realize how beautifully aligned the symbolism of the Advent season is to the imagery of the natural season leading to the Winter Solstice — the play of light and dark, the waiting, even a kind of deep and prophetic longing.

For the word “advent” literally means “the coming,” and, in this sense, these weeks in December are indeed a time of advent for all of us — whether we consider ourselves religious or not. The light is coming. All of Creation — and we — wait together for that coming.

What a not-to-be-missed treasure the natural season of Advent can be then, when the nascent light inside each of us can turn to, and answer, the promises of light surrounding us everywhere in the December dark: the whisper of candlelight from darkened windows, the blue-black light of dusk against the silhouetted trees of winter.

This is Advent — when as sleepers we awaken to our own light of love deep within us, waiting to be reborn again in the dark stables of our own souls.”

Source: Finding Ancient (Pagan) Meaning in the Darkness of Advent | The On Being Project,

And I love the online devotionals. These are my current favorites:

1. Maren Tirabassi: “Each year at this time some small thing touches me and I write prayers for these days of waiting and watching, of solstice and holiness and the grubbiness of God becoming human. This year I am going to listen to the wisdom in non-first lines of our seasonal music – mostly carols and Advent hymns, but there is a sweetness in many of the secular songs as well. (Maybe not “Grandma got run over by a reindeer …”) We will see – I don’t actually plan these ahead, these are my daily prayers, and God never comes as expected.” Source: Advent prayers, 2018 — December 2 | Gifts in Open Hands,

2. #AdventWord – A global Advent calendar,

3. First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte’s PAUSE AND PONDER: 2018 DAILY ADVENT MEDITATION.

“In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus urges his listeners to “be on guard so that your hearts are not weighted down with…the worries of this life….” Beginning Dec. 2, First Presbyterian will send you a daily email that will invite you to unburden your hearts – to pause, ponder and welcome the gift of love revealed in Jesus the Christ.Weekday emails will offer a prompt to draw you deeper into the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of the season, and Sunday emails will provide a liturgy for lighting the Advent wreath candles. If you missed the emails, check the links below daily.” Source: Pause and Ponder: 2018 Daily Advent Meditation – First Presbyterian Church,

Most of the devotionals have a daily or weekly prayer. I found this one on the internet and have been using it this first week of Advent.

Week 1, Hope

Dear Jesus, you are the hope in our messy world. This Advent, help us slow down, listen to your voice, and focus on what’s really important. We place our hope in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.

We place our hope in you …

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December 2018