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November 24, 2015, 1:36 PM

Spiritual First Aid for the Holidays

Sunday, November 29 begins the season of Advent this year.  There is a wonderful short video about Advent on YouTube that reminds us what the church season before Christmas is really about.  It encourages us to change our focus from shopping, planning, buying, baking, parties, dinners, cookies, eggnog, Santa, cards, gifts, decorating, caroling and general stressing…

 …And replace it with expectant waiting… and hopeful anticipation… of God breaking into our lives in all moments and places. 

Advent is about more than getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus 2015 years ago.  It is also about preparing for Christ’s return and about hopeful anticipation of God’s reign of peace.  Advent is a time to open our hearts to welcome God into our every-day lives. 

Starting four Sundays before Christmas, Advent is a time of joyful waiting.  It begins the church year, so it is a time for starting fresh.  Unlike the Lent season before Easter, which focuses on repentance; Advent focuses on hope.

The end of the video says: “If you are sick of Christmas by December 25th, then you haven’t done Advent correctly.” 

One way to “do Advent correctly” is to light candles on an Advent wreath – one candle for the whole first week, two for the second week, three each day for the third week, and then four each day until you light the final Christ candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.  Each year, our church has an Advent-wreath-decorating workshop during Sunday school on the Sunday after Thanksgiving so that each participating family has an Advent wreath for their kitchen or dining table.  The wreath goes home complete with a booklet with readings and instructions for each candle.  Unlike my illustrating photo, most people use a white candle for the Christ candle in the middle instead of a cat however.

You can find the “Advent in Two Minutes” video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=S02KOlw7dlA 

Another traditional custom is an Advent calendar that has a little surprise of some sort hidden behind a door for each of the days of Advent.  There is a wonderful on-line Advent calendar that offers an inspirational quote and a daily challenge at www.bustedhalo.com/Advent  

Do you have an Advent practice that helps to keep you centered during the noise and commercialism of the holiday season?  Share it here!



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