Living these Days “Advently”

IMG_2278As a pastor, I know that Advent is a time of preparation, a time of pondering, a time of patient waiting. It is a season to contemplate the growing darkness of our days and appreciate the promise held in the darkness of Mary’s womb. It is a time pregnant with the possibility of recognizing and nurturing the presence of God in our world–a time we may be more likely to catch glimpses of the Divine in the most unexpected places.

I know all of this. I live–at least partially–within the holy rhythm of the Christian year.

I am a pastor.

I am also a daughter. And a wife. And a mother. And an aunt. And a friend.

In all of these roles, Advent is also a time of preparation. There are presents to buy and concerts to attend. There are cookies to bake and trees to decorate. There are gifts to make and cards to send. There are events to plan and schedules to untangle.

I honestly love both aspects of Advent. I love my morning Advent pondering and prayer time. I love planning worship services that (I hope) help to awaken a sense of anticipation in people who have grown weary.

I love attending my daughter’s concerts. I love buying and making gifts for people. I can’t wait to bake cookies with my nephews this weekend. And I frequently abandon NPR for the all Christmas music station this time of year.

I love it all. (O.K. I love most of it.) Still, it can be hard to hold everything together; to move through the season with some sense of the holiness behind the hecticness. (Spellcheck says “hecticness” isn’t a word, but I beg to differ.)

Then last night, when my entire evening was spent at the high school for my oldest daughter’s orchestra concert which I loved but it took up the whole evening and I was tired and there were twenty or so other things I could/should have been doing . . . last night I had a thought.

To understand this thought, you should know about a wonderful book by MaryAnn McKibben Dana called Sabbath in the Suburbs. As Dana and her family sought to practice weekly Sabbath for a year, she found that there were a lot of things that came up on any given Sabbath day. Sometimes her family could simply not do those things. Other times, they really had to do them. So if Dana had to do something that did not fit into the traditional idea of Sabbath, she tried to do it “Sabbathly.”

My thought last night at the concert was that I should try to do things Advently.

The shopping. The baking. The crafting. The concerts. The wrapping. The off key car-singing.

Do it all Advently–in the manner of Advent. With an awareness that even this piece of the hecticness is a part of the waiting, a part of the preparation, a part of the longing for and rejoicing in the Divine presence that we feel so keenly in these darkening days.

So whatever these days before Christmas hold for you, I pray you will live them Advently.

Sabbath Cards

I spent some of my Sabbath time this weekend making cards. Not quick and simple cards–those are the ones I make out of necessity–when I need a card ASAP. These are Sabbath cards–made for people I love without regard for how long it takes to make each one. These luxurious expanses of creative time are so very good for my spirit.

I pray that you will find some Sabbath time in your week to do whatever it is that nourishes your spirit and connects you more deeply with the Creator.

For my nephew, who loves Star Wars. And–full confession–whose birthday was this past Saturday.

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For my friend, LaVonne, to send to her baby granddaughter (when she is born next month)!

Rule of Life Update

So this is my new “Rule of Life” board. And I know it looks crazy. The thing is, my life is kind of crazy. In a good way, but still. Three kids at two different schools that have different start and end times–and they all get out of school early every Wednesday and sometimes the High School starts late and/or ends early on Thursdays. Between Dr. appointments and vet visits and dentists and eye doctors and other miscellaneous, there is usually at least one appointment a week. And it’s not that it’s too much. It’s just that when I tried putting together a basic schedule for my Rule of Life I realized that I couldn’t do it. Any schedule I set up would have to be altered from week to week.

So I came up with the Rule of Life board. I have set a time for morning and evening prayer, and beyond that, I will fill in my time on a week-by-week basis. The board has slots and I have cards for those things I want to do. My Rule includes time with friends, time for work, time for exercise (I joined a gym!), time for blogging, and my Sabbath time.

This is very much an experiment, and I’m anxious to see how it works out. I do like the fact that this system is very flexible. (“Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.”)

Well,  I’m off for our first family devotion session in a long time. I actually think the kids are all waiting on me. (How awesome is that!)

“Holy Uselessness”

In her book At Home in the World, Margaret Guenther encourages us to include times of “holy uselessness” in our Rule of Life.

As hard-working adults we too often lose the gift for letting go, for delight in simply being. We persuade ourselves that every moment must be lived productively; like the busy little bee, we feel a holy obligation to improve each shining hour.

So I’m headed off with my family for some days of holy uselessness. Swimming and hiking, eating and laughing, rides and shows and maybe even a little shopping.Nothing productive at all–except maybe cooking.

If all goes well, I will not touch a computer until next Friday. So don’t feel bad if you post a comment that doesn’t get approved right away. And try to make it through the week without a new prayer practice or worship piece🙂 There’s plenty of old ones you can look at–just go to the categories menu.

Blessings to you–and may you find at least a few hours for holy uselessness in your life this week.