Sunday, December 1, 2013

december 1st: what are you waiting for?

it was july and he wanted this thing. you know. one of those things which ten year old boys want in july. something to do with a remote and a car and the word "cool."

the boy was longing.
the mother wasn't budging.

it was july.

"well, connor," i calmly explained, "Christmas is coming. we can add it to your Christmas list, buddy."
"but mom, Christmas is soooo far away."

it was july.

and in july it did feel kind of a long way off. but here we are folks -- december first. and maybe for connor it has been a long, long, unbearable wait, but for me, it feels like less than a blink. when you are ten years old and have your eye on something grand time feels different than when you're a mom with a list and a lot to accomplish each day.

as i sit here this morning on the first sunday of december and consider advent, i remember that little exchange with my son and can't help but want to be more like him -- waiting. wishing. hoping. expecting. longing.


i love that childhood expectant, urgent, excitement of the i-can't-wait!

i'm not really like that so much anymore. not even about Christmas. in fact, if i am honest, i'd love to add another week between thanksgiving and december first. just an additional seven days where i can get ahead of the game and get ahold of my holiday errands. anyone else in agreement?

where the kids flip the calendar and begin to countdown ... i want to slam on the breaks and slowdown. is this evidence of my motherhood, my age, my energy level? perhaps. or perhaps it is evident of what's going on in my heart.

because the fact is, as a mother in a busy household, i have a long list of things which need to get done this month. you too? but this year,  i'm feeling a little bit rebellious because i don't want my december defined by what i have to do. i don't want to count shopping days or count off items on a list ... i want to experience advent.

did you hear me?

i want to be consumed not with a longing to slow down the Christmas season, but a longing for the coming of Christ this season. it's only december 1st and i can tell already, i need to be reminded.

today marks the first sunday of advent. and though this weekend has definitely been about getting our house decorated and ready for Christmas, we are going to hit the pause button tonight and reflect for a minute, not on our Christmas lists or on our decorating to-dos, but on the meaning of advent. stop and reflect before the reindeer games really get going. stop the hustle and bustle and choose to set a tone.

the word advent derives from the latin word that means "coming."

advent is a season of waiting, expecting, and hoping. notice i didn't include "stressing" or even "shopping." it begins on the sunday after thanksgiving and is celebrated each sunday through christmas. there are several ways to remember it. we use a wreath with some candles in our home. lighting one candle each sunday in our remembrance and in our waiting.

we keep it kind of simple: in fact, where most people use five candles, we have used just one giant candle in the center of our wreath. our large candle has the words of advent on it and psalm 39:7. (i typed them, printed them and glued them on with some elmers ... yeah, simple). we light the candle each sunday and we pause for a minute to remember what we are really waiting for. not fun santa and fabulous presents and festive gingerbread houses ... but Jesus.

Jesus --- His birth and His coming again.

sure santa's great -- i agree! but guys, like it or not, he just isn't the one we're truly waiting for. he isn't the main event. if we try to make him that, we'll find ourselves sorely disappointed in our december 25th.

i can write that, but it's different in real life, right? i want my household and my heart to support my words. i want it to be crystal clear we are keeping Christ as the center of our Christmas. and yet, sometimes i wonder, if someone was watching closely, might it be a bit confusing.

so back to this advent thing. whether you choose to use one big candle or the traditional five, here's what each sunday in advent marks:

candle one: the prophecy candle or "hope" candle.
candle two: the bethlehem candle or "preparation" candle.
candle three: the shepherd candle or "joy" candle
candle four: the angel candle or "love" candle
candle five: the Christ candle

you can google advent and come up with all sorts of interesting and creative ways to celebrate!

i'm not suggesting you must add an advent wreath to your home. but i am encouraging you to add some advent to your heart this holiday. the wreath is a good symbol to keep us on track. (and oh dear, do i ever need something to keep me on track). but wreath or no wreath, i'm going to encourage you to pause in the Christmas plans and plan to prepare for the real meaning of Christmas -- Christ.

and december first is a perfect time to begin.

i know our world has taken this holiday and made it about everything else but Him. and if that's true of your home, then this year, i want to challenge you to reclaim it. reclaim it and bring it back to the birth. maybe even strip from it some of the dazzle and distraction. this is not a lecture or a nice little sermonette -- oh no -- i assure you, i have a home which needs some reclaiming too.

so tonight, we will stop. pause. light a candle and remember the hope we have and the hope of Him to come.

if you like the idea of this centuries old advent wreath then put something together today. you can do it. even if there's not an extra wreath sitting around. go grab some evergreen. no evergreen in your yard? well, no worries, your neighbor won't mind you cutting a small branch or two from his! add a few candles. (we all have extra candles in our homes). if you need one, stop on over at our house (i have what my family might label a candle addiction and i could most likely supply most of minnesota --but that's another blog post for another time).

if it's monday morning and you're just reading this. no problem. start your advent tonight. i promise you, longing for Jesus isn't defined by a day of the week. God doesn't care if you light a candle on sunday or monday or friday. He just wants you and your loved ones to keep your eyes on Him -- the Light of the world.

the wreath and the candles are just things. simple symbols. the only thing which really matters is having a heart which wants to enter into advent, looking, longing and waiting for Him.

it's december 1st: what are you waiting for?

“and now, o Lord, for what do i wait? 
my hope is in you.” ~ psalm 39:7

looking for 
an advent 

we have used 
nancy guthrie's 
"let every heart
prepare Him room."

just dug it out today and found someone (bella) had added some artwork to december 1st.  

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