Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Advent reading

"Though Advent (literally 'arrival') has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate Christ's birth, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look. For the vast majority of us December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called 'the holiday season' turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.
It is also a time of contrasting emotions. We are eager,yet frazzled; sentimental, yet indifferent. One minute we glow with the thought of getting together with family and friends;the next we feel utterly lonely... Content with candles and carols and good food, we bask in the warmth of familiar traditions, in reciprocated acts of kindness, and in feelings of general goodwill... How many of us share the longings of the ancient prophets, who awaited the Messiah with such intensity that they foresaw his arrival thousands of years before he was born?
Mother Teresa once noted that the first person to welcome Christ was John the Baptist, who leaped for joy on recognizing him, though both were still in their mothers' wombs. We, in stark contrast, are often so dulled by superficial distractions that we are incapable of hearing any voice within, let alone listening to it. Consequently, the feeling we know as Christmas cheer lacks any real connection to the vital spirit that radiated from the manger. That is the main purpose of this collection: to reforge that link, and to encourage the rediscovery of Advent as a season of inward preparation....Advent marks something momentous: God's coming into our midst."

This is an excerpt from the introduction of a book called "Watch for the Light".
Its daily readings are by various authors, some of which include C.S.Lewis, Thomas Merton, Philip Yancey, Madeleine L'Engle, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Brennan Manning.

Now that December is here, I've been thinking a lot about how easy it is to lose sight of what all the celebration is about. There really is so much that can distract. Obviously, to some it is all about the stuff, the presents, the lights, the parties and the fuzzy feelings that surround the season. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love everything about Christmas. At our house the music starts in November and without fail, every year I feel a surge of child-like delight when the lights come out and the tree goes up. Bring on the mistletoe, pretty paper, and gift-giving, the parties and the carols. I revel in all of it, I can't get enough of the charm of this season. But all of that is just a way to celebrate and enjoy the good gifts our Father has lavished on us. I adore watching how magical these first Christmas' are to my children but have also gotten a taste of the difficulty of the season in missing loved ones lost. During this time of year my heart is just so full.

With each year that passes I have an increasing sense of the absolute holiness of this season of Advent. It is a time to fast, to reflect, to examine and purge from our hearts the darkness that is there. It is a time to triumph in the babe in the manger, our God who put on flesh and became like us so that he could dwell among us and obliterate the void that lay between us. It is a time to be mindful that our Messiah will come again.

I wanted to share this book because it has been a blessing to me, water to a thirsty soul. Last year I read it by myself
but this year I'm reading it with Josh. In the dark we sit, all distractions aside, with only a candle to light the page. It is becoming my favorite time of the day.