It's hard to believe that seventeen days have passed since I wrote this Advent post! I'm updating some of the information and re-sending because tomorrow is the big day. Look for the updates in bold cranberry letters.
One note: You know that statement "I did not make it, it is making me"? I'm noticing that the slow formation following the liturgical calendar is beginning to bear fruit in my life. I'm positively giddy with anticipation for this season to begin. It may also be that the trials and celebrations of this past year have developed my spiritual muscles, heightened my spiritual awareness, wizened me to know even better the tension we mark with Advent: the Christ who has come, the Christ who is with us, the Christ we await.
May we come in and know him better, man! this Advent season.
"The liturgical year is the year that sets out to attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus, the Christ. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us over and over again into the sense and substance of the Christian life until, eventually, we become what we say we are -- followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God. The liturgical year is an adventure in human growth, an exercise in spiritual ripening." (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year)
If you've ever considered following the ancient rhythms of the liturgical calendar there's no better time to start than at the Church's New Year: Advent. Even if your church follows the civic calendar more prominently than the liturgical, you can follow along with your brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe from the quiet spaces of your own home. You could create -- figuratively or, even, literally -- a family altar in your own home. This does not have to be elaborate, time-consuming or expensive. Simple tangible acts will impress themselves upon your hearts and minds as well as your children's for a lifetime: a book or two filled with rich images and time-tested writings, mealtime prayers, a candle or two.
"The liturgical year does not begin at the heart of the Christian enterprise. It does not immediately plunge us into the chaos of the Crucifixion or the giddy confusion of the Resurrection. Instead, the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored."If it may be of help to you, I've included a list of favorite resources our family has used the past several years.
Advent devotional books:
- God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas: This is my favorite, favorite, favorite advent devotional. It covers the weeks leading up to Christmas, goes through the 12 days of Christmas and moves into Epiphany. The full-color artwork is gorgeous and the writings include authors like Eugene Peterson, Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus and Kathleen Norris. We put this book on an easel next to our nativity along with some Bibles for people to pick up and read when they have quiet moments. (see photo above)
- Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton: Alas, I left my copy of this book in a Panera Bread and was never able to find it. I enjoyed it for the short time I owned it! update: Some kind benefactor anonymously purchased and shipped this book to me last week. I keep staring at it with wonder at the grace of it all.
- Devotions for Advent (Mosaic Bible): We have both the Bible and the handy Advent and Lent devotional booklets. The readings are the same, but the small booklet is great for carrying in a purse or sharing with a friend or family member. The booklet is only $1.99 and includes the same full color artwork as the Mosaic Bible. Wonderful resource for a family, small group, Sunday School class, or an entire church community.
- My church is in the process of self-publishing an Advent devotional. If they place it online, I'll update this info with a link. update: I have not heard whether we'll be posting this online, but will let you know!
- update: Bruce Benedict, Worship and community life director at Christ the King, Raleigh and generous blogger at Cardiphonia, shares a beautiful anthology of Advent resources at his blog. Click here to see for yourself.
|The Cradle to Cross Wreath handmade from the Voskamp family.
All proceeds go to Compassion International.
- The Cradle to the Cross Wreath: I've mentioned before how much we've enjoyed using this wreath for our Advent, Lent and Pentecost celebrations. You can go to Ann Voskamp's site to see how her family uses the wreathe for Advent. We have enjoyed it so much, but also do recommend using dripless candles! I'm not sure how many orders they've received and whether you'd be able to get yours in time for the beginning of Advent, but I encourage you to order it anyway. Worst case, you'll be all prepared for Lent 2012!
- Jesse Tree: Ann has also made available a free Jesse Tree booklet with readings and printouts for your family to enjoy. We've never tried this but I'm considering it for this year. Never too old, I don't think. update: The free Jesse Tree Advent booklet is available when you subscribe to A Holy Experience via email or RSS feed to your reader. Scroll to the bottom of the link I've given you here to get that information.
- Make your own advent wreath! A few pictures I've seen in my blog reader.
|I love the simplicity of this advent wreath by Sharon @ The Good, True and Beautiful.
|A super simple Advent wreath I saw at Like Mother, Like Daughter
"Advent is about learning to wait. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, it is of the essence of sanctification for us. Every piece of it, some hard, some uplifiting, is sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life."
Click here to visit a site with all sorts of Advent information and resources.