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Sunday, November 30, 2008

First of Advent

Today is the first of Advent, a very special Sunday in Sweden. Some religious traditions observe Advent in an intentional way, others do not even acknowledge it. I have always been a part of churches that do observe Advent and I can honestly say that I am very happy about that. Advent is the season of preparation that precedes the birth of Christ. It begins with the 4th Sunday before Christmas and culminates in Christmas Eve. Churches that observe Advent light one candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas Eve as a symbol of drawing closer and closer to time when Jesus Christ, the light of the world, illuminates the world with peace and grace. The photo in this blog shows our very own Advent candles that we have in our house. The first candle of advent is now lit. On the following three Sundays we will light the subsequent candles as we journey towards the birth event.
I love Advent. I believe in the intentional time of preparation that Advent allows us. We need to think clearly about what the birth of Christ means for us and if we are not intentional, the hullabaloo of the season will swallow us up and we'll only view the birth event as one more thing in a series of things rather than as the main thing.
Another tradition of Advent is to open a window or a box for each day in Advent leading up to Christmas Eve. Often the "windows" are filled with candy or a small toy, something to entice the participants, often children, to stay with the practice throughout the month. While often secular in nature, it is still a strong reminder of how each passing day draws us closer to Christ's birth.
I have set as a goal for myself to have an "Advent Blog". I hope to post something every day in Advent, along with a photo of something in our house that reminds us of the Christmas season. I hope my readers will enjoy my daily reminders of our journey towards Christ and even more so, I hope it will help me to really focus on the season, giving myself an opportunity to truly enjoy the anticipation and hope that Christ's birth represents for me.
I preached today on Mary and Joseph and how surprising the news of being Jesus' earthly parents must've been for them. My main points were these: Joseph, who as a carpenter is used to being a builder, in the instance of being called to be Jesus' earthly father, will not be the builder, but rather the tool...a tool in God's hand as God fulfills his will through him. Mary on the other hand has been called to create space in her life to be the dwelling place for the baby Jesus so that he can be born and eventually dwell among us on the earth. My conclusion was that we are called to be tools in God's hands, dwelling places of the Holy Spirit, available to God to accomplish his will.
I hope that your advent preparations will help you create the space in your life that allows God to use you in the way He longs to.
I wish you all a Glad Advent!