Disclaimer: As I thought about sharing this on my blog, I am aware that not all hold my views on this season of Christmas and its meaning; for many it is a time of family, peace, gifts, beauty, good food and loving each other. I also celebrate and hold these things dear. I hope that my desire to share a little more of my being will not seen as a desire to belittle these values or to place myself on a higher level. Really, I am just inviting you, my readers and friends, to have a little peek at my journey.
I have always loved Christmas, the anticipation and the joy that for me is such of part of the season. I love traditions and thrive on the warm feeling that are invoke by the smell of Christmas baking, the sound of Christmas music playing and the giving and receiving of gifts. I still anticipate all of these things this year and I will probably write a bit about it another time. Over time my heart has been turning more toward the season of Advent, the anticipation and preparation of the Christ with the celebration of his arrival to take place at Christmas which with then move into Epiphany which celebrates the coming of the Magi (wise men) and even more, Christ revealed.
Last year was the first year that we prepared for Advent. We wanted for it to become a tradition that we as a family could joyfully take part in without it becoming merely a ritual so we thought that we would plan for some flexibility while maintaining some structure. We planned to have prayers, readings, songs and the lighting of the advent candles during one of our meals each day. Sometimes at supper, sometimes during breakfast. Sometimes very brief, other times longer. Probably my favorite time was breakfast, I loved the connection and peace that was instilled in our day.
This year, we would like the season of advent to be even more of our focus so ideally, I would like to have gifts and stockings finished and baking planned by the time advent season begins (Nov 28th this year).
I would like to talk about advent a little more in the next weeks but for now I thought that I would include a few links for any one interested in more. As always, I would welcome suggestions or thoughts, this is a relatively new realm to me and so I would be happy to learn more!
http://www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html by Dennis Bratcher ( I will say that I have not looked into this site beyond the advent section but I find the information here very helpful)
http://www.henrinouwen.org/shopcart/product_info.php?products_id=245 (we used this combined with the Anglican Collect last year and like it)
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God (this has been highly recommended to us and so we have ordered it for this year, it follows the entire Christian calendar, not just Advent)
http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2010/09/planning-for-advent-and-christmas.html (This blog has some good ideas for families with children mostly talking about within services but some very transferable, I just came across it so again haven't dug too deeply)