It may surprise you to learn that I am a bit of a Scrooge. I prefer the term “Advent purist,” but the way it manifests is that I am rather militant in my desire to save Christmas celebrations for 24 December and after. At Bible and Beverages this past Monday night, one of our number joked that he wished he knew where the circuit breaker was at Mahoney’s Garden Centre so he could cut power to the Christmas lights. It was a funny thought that made me feel a little less alone in my bahumbugness about it all.
I don’t want to be a Scrooge. I want to see the lights and the joy and internalize some of the wonder but that can be difficult with all that seems to swirl around – especially this time of year. There is a distinct difference between the light of Christ in Christmas and the commercial hoopla that the decorations in the stores represent. All of this has called me to consider what concrete steps I could take to intentionally focus on the light that breaks through the darkness in this season. Where can I find Christ in the midst of the craziness?
To answer those questions I’ve decided to adopt an Advent discipline this year as a way of intentionally looking for the light each day. Similar to a Lenten discipline, I will be taking specific prayerful steps to listen to what the Spirit is saying in my life. Not surprisingly, the steps I will be taking involve color and lots of glitter. I plan to paint each day during Advent as a prayer and mindfulness activity. There are two books that will be my guides on the journey: Praying in Color by Sybil McBeth and The Painting Table by Roger Hutchison.
It can be very easy to lose track of the simple and beautiful reason for this season when society tells us to sprint from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But really, is there ever a time of year when we don’t feel the push to sprint ahead? It seems that with each change of season there is another reason why we can’t slow down. From sports to time changes to work schedules and everything in-between, there is always something to be done or someplace to go. It seems this is nothing new since the architects of the church calendar very intentionally built in seasons of reflection in advance of our two major feast days. Advent is a time for hopeful expectation. It is a time that can be stressful and even painful as we remember the people and events in our lives that have influenced us. But Advent is also an invitation – an invitation to wait, watch, notice, and pray all the while trusting that Christ will come. So, while I work on the trust part I will keep my hands busy (and messy) this season.