Monday, December 15, 2008

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR CHRISTMAS?

Maybe "Advent" is too intimidating a word for what we can simply be and do

STEP BACK A BIT. I've been wondering if the word and concept of "Advent" is just a bit too intimidating to be practically useful. Is Advent one more set of things I've got to do? If Advent has not been a part of your religious or family tradition (it was not mine), you may feel like observing Advent is like trying to fit into something that is either too constraining or just plain awkward and complicated. So, let's try to step back a bit.

WHAT ARE THESE WEEKS LIKE FOR YOU? Everybody seems to have their own way of getting ready for Christmas. For some, it’s strictly a matter of getting everything that’s expected to be done (baked, purchased, decorated, wrapped, sent, etc.) before the big day. For others, the weeks and days leading up to Christmas have a more reverent and measured pace. The point is: take a look at how you prepare for Christmas. Does it have meaning beyond doing what is expected to be done? Do your actions connect with the Christmas story in any way? If so, how? How might your weeks leading up to Christmas bring you and others closer to its purpose and power?

A DAY AT A TIME. At the church I pastor, we are encouraging folks to move beyond what I call Kulture Krismas and into a Word-centered pattern of anticipation and preparation. This is what we call Advent. Advent is more a way of being and seeing than anything else. It’s four weeks of taking it a day at a time, reflecting on the promises and story of the Bible, opening up ourselves to God’s grace in prayer, worship and fellowship, and bringing a depth of perspective and hope into our interactions with our loved ones, neighbors, and community. The idea is to arrive at Christmas day not frazzled and spent, but full and prepared and joyful--ready to receive and bear grace!

SO, HOW DO YOU PREPARE? Here’s the question for this week: How do you prepare for Christmas? What helps you bring the spirit and purpose of it into focus for you? Are their traditions or practices that help you welcome and prepare for Christmas? I welcome your comments and ideas.

In the spirit of dialog, comments and/or questions welcome. Share yours by clicking on "comments" below. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

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