Looking Toward Advent


One of our baby Jesus-less nativity scenes.

I’ve been tempted to cancel Lent before, but never Advent. I’m a true Advent-lover. At church we sing Advent hymns—no Christmas carols until Christmas Eve. At home we do Advent candles and a calendar. Even my 13-year-old daughter takes Advent seriously; she has put away the baby Jesuses from our nativity sets and says she’ll put them out on Christmas Eve.

This year, though, there’s a part of me that wants to skip the waiting and the contemplation and the somber reflection. To skip the apocalyptic texts and the wild prophets in the wilderness. There’s a part of me that just wants to do full-on Christmas for the next month.

I keep thinking of the song “We Need a Little Christmas.” It’s a snappy tune, but I’ve always found it to be kind of a sad song: “For I’ve grown a little leaner, grown a little colder, grown a little sadder, grown a little older.” We need a little Christmas when real life is difficult. We need a little Christmas when the real world is bleak. So, yes, maybe we do need a little Christmas now.

But we also need a little Advent. A little time to light candles of hope, peace, joy, and love against the news of despair, violence, misery, and hatred that bombards us.

There is nothing wrong with the glittering lights, the cheerful music, the superficial happiness that has come to identify the cultural season of Christmas. Being happy—even for a brief time—is good. But it will not sustain us.

Flickering Advent candle flames might not be as spectacular as dancing Christmas lights; the mournful strains of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” may not be as cheery as Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” Advent is not spectacular. It is not cheery. It is merely holy. I would venture to say that while we may want a little Christmas, we need a little Advent right this very minute . . . or at least this coming Sunday.



I plan to post (almost) daily this Advent season. Three years ago I hosted an Advent blog that was written by a bunch of wonderful Mennonites. . . . The liturgically minded among you already know where this is going. While our world continues to change, the Revised Common Lectionary readings (God bless ‘em) come around again every three years. So most of the posts will be replays of some wonderful reflections from 2014, along with a few links to Advent liturgies.

In the meantime, you can find seasonal liturgies and writings by going to “Categories” on the right side bar and click on “Advent/Christmas” and/or going to the index page and scrolling down to the “Advent” section.

If you are looking for resources for special services:

Blessings to you as you prepare for and live into the holy season of Advent.

2 thoughts on “Looking Toward Advent

  1. Thanks Joanna for setting the table to this season. To sit and ponder about the wonder of waiting! I hear you about not really wanting to wait, but have a month long Christmas joy to counter all that has been negative in our world. Yah, then I’m reminded of the importance of the darkness to give way to new births. With you on this journey!

  2. We put out our nativity scene as well as Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Otherwise, I have not so much associated the nativity with the particular night/day Christ was born, but with an exciting event that we THINK happened sometime around this particular season – especially since the date Christians use to commemorate Christ’s birth is something of a guess? The birth of this special child is the main event – a joy and fun event to celebrate, an event (or whole season) we are eager to begin to antcipate after Thanksgiving Day!

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