Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Sunday...

Advent:  Arrival that has been long awaited.  The coming of Christ at the incarnation (God made flesh).  The period including four Sundays before Christmas, the first of which is called Advent Sunday.
Second Advent:  The second coming of the Lord Jesus.

I am not a liturgical Christian today, but I grew up in the Catholic Church and my husband grew up in the Lutheran Church -- both liturgical -- and so together we have strong roots in the rituals, feasts, and fasts of the liturgical church.  It was natural then for us to weave the traditions of our past spiritual lives into the present spiritual fabric of our own family.  Advent is one of those celebrations that has remained within our celebration of the Christmas Season and I'm so grateful that we have kept Advent year after year.  Our children loved the many and varied ways that we built up our Advent anticipation to Christmas Day -- the day when our Savior, Jesus, became the Word Made Flesh and was born a vulnerable and weak human baby, just like us. 

Although I am not one to start the Christmas decorating until well into December, I have been busy making the Advent centerpiece that we will use daily as we read scripture, meditate, sing carols, pray and anticipate the coming of Christmas.  I decided that I would keep my centerpiece very simple this year by using white pillar candles of varied heights and juniper sprigs and berries that I trimmed from "My Woods" and from my father-in-law's yard.  I will use the same juniper boughs and snippets to tuck around other candles and to place in special spots around my house -- on windows and sills, on doors and tables.  If you have evergreens growing in your yard, it is easy to snip a few and place them all around your home and replace them again (several times if necessary) if they should turn dry and brittle.  Before I used any of the juniper greens, I soaked them in my washtub for several hours so they would be well hydrated.  Living on the northern prairies means that generally the fall season is dry and therefore the junipers dry out too.  The good soaking they get brings out their undeniably strong, spicy, fresh scent which infuses Christmas to my senses.

Even though I plan to keep my evergreens embellishments very simple, I found some nice tips on using evergreens indoors, especially if you would like to make beautiful centerpieces or if you want to make your greenery last a long time.  Here is a nice tutorial on how to make an evergreen arrangement using juniper or cedar greenery. There are so many variations from fancy to folksy.  I think I may try my hand at making a centerpiece to give as a gift.....if the results satisfy me.

The four candles of Advent are lit one at a time.  Beginning tonight, Advent Sunday, we light the first candle.  We will continue lighting this same candle every night this week and on the second Sunday of Advent, we will light the first along with a second candle, and so it goes until all four are lit.  On Christmas Day all the candles are lit together announcing that the Light of the World has come!  There are many ways to "do" Advent.  Liturgical churches have their own booklets and readings for the season.  This year we will use the book  The Meaning is in the Waiting by Paula Gooder.  From the back of the book Lauren F. Winner, author of Mudhouse Sabbath and Girl Meets God says:
In this winsome yet provocative Advent devotional...I began to sense something I had not understood before, in any of my other Advent observances -- it is not just we who wait.  God is waiting, too.  "The Lord waits, that He may be gracious to you," says Isaiah, one of the prophets who interests Paula Gooder most.  God waits on us, for our attention, for our visits home; God waits for our vision and our ear.

I am very excited to begin, and tonight's the night!  Will you be joining me and my family in Advent devotions?  I'd love to hear how you keep Christ at the center of the Christmas season.

This is one verse of the song which we love to sing during Advent.  It was first written in Medieval times and then rewritten in Latin and again, it was written in English.  I am so glad that we have the English version, but I would have loved to hear it in it's original Medieval language.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight,
Rejoice, rejoice!  Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

~Medieval Antiphon
Latin Hymn, 1710
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Emmanuel.... God with us.


  1. A well-written post and beautiful pictures. I love the simplicity of your advent wreath this year. God bless you and your family during this special season of hope.

  2. Your evergreen arrangements are beautiful Jody. Thanks for the evergreen link -- I need some tips, as I've been thinking I might try to use some greens from our yard this year. I hope you had a wonderful first Sunday of Advent!

  3. Like Mary, I thought this was an especially well-written post, and I love your Advent wreath as well. I am a liturgical gal myself, and we always have an Advent wreath. In fact, this year we have two. Jack made one at church on Sunday that's pretty fancy, and I put together a simple one with votive candles on a clear glass plate at home, which I do every year (I'm no good at making wreaths, though I'm inspired by Jack this year!). The fancy one we have on the dining room table and the simple one is on the kitchen table. On Sunday nights during Advent we'll eat in the dining room and begin dinner with prayer and scripture. Other nights, we'll eat in the kitchen and light the candles there. Traditionally, the candles are only lit on Sunday, but my boys really like having the candles lit every night, so we do. It's a nice way to keep the coming of Christ at the center of the season.


  4. I enjoyed your post about advent so much. I am just learning about it and i love it.


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