Despite having grown up in church and being an avid lover of Christmas, advent and particularly the church season of advent has largely gone ignored by me… I have seen the candles, understood the benefits of the calendar, but it is not something that I have actively sort out, but one of the perks of life being upside down in 2020, this year I have found myself very drawn to the idea of a deliberate season of advent (I’m not even sure if that’s the correct terminology) leading up to this Christmas.

I think that the blessing of being forced to slow down this year, despite my initial intention to do so anyway, has meant that December has not been filled with things to do by late October and I have found myself longing for more Christmas, but I have also had to be a bit more deliberate about how and where I include Christmas this year. It turns out, this has been the perfect opportunity for me to investigate what doing my own deliberate advent season at home would look like… and it hasn’t just been for me.

When Isaac was still tiny I very quickly realised that I am excellent at ‘Commercial Christmas’ Santa, carols, presents, events, costumes, the works… but that often I took the ‘Jesus Christmas’ for granted, it’s always been there, bubbling the background but it gets lost. So in an attempt to not let this trend continue I have spent the last couple of weeks feverishly stitching felt nativity characters for a homemade advent calendar for Isaac so that there is a daily opportunity to remind both him and me that Christmas is about the hope of Christ and the rest is all just extra. But for me, I have purchased a book called ‘Shadow and Light’ by Tsh Oxenreider which has been written exactly for this purpose to help you find a “gentle holiday rhythm”, to give space to stop and to point people like me to the greater picture of Christmas and boy is it great! I feel like in a weird way it has extended Christmas in all the best ways, provided perspective and hope in a season that is often a bit selfish and usually way to busy and because the daily readings are concise it hasn’t created its own kind of burden. Instead, it has reminded me once again (even though I only started week 2 yesterday) what a miraculous event Christmas actually is, so understated and yet so powerful and as a lyric I just heard put it “born in the dirt, sitting on the throne’. This beautiful hope that is offered so simply, worthy of all the praise but not demanding it… offering it.

I am so thankful that despite the pain this year has caused that I have been given this sacred time to stop and reflect for so much of the year, to focus on what is important, and while I know that for many around the world this year Christmas will be spent separated from those they love and perhaps overshadowed by the events of the world. I am incredibly thankful that I can be with those I love, but more than that I am thankful that the hope Christ brings is for all, not just some and that the invitation is always there to come and celebrate the advent of Christ. And that there is still hope found in Him even after all that we have experienced, that there is no circumstance or place too dark for the light of Christ. So I guess I want to invite you to join me in taking a minute to come and adore Christ the newborn king.

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