Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practicing Advent

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. Perhaps now, only two weeks after I installed it, is the time to thank the Curt Jester for the very nice Advent wreath graphic and counter he provided free to anyone. It's nicer to open someone's blog and see "12 praying days till Christmas" than to look at a newspaper and see "12 shopping days till Christmas".

When I was a child, I didn't know anything about Advent. The only time I ever heard of it was to see, once or twice, Advent calendars in this little mail order catalogue we got a few times. There was a little "letter from our customers" type testimonial from someone thanking them for carrying them, saying she'd fondly remembered Advent calendars from her youth but had been unable to find them for years. So I knew that this "new", Christmas-related thing I'd never heard of before had been around for a while, but I still didn't know what it was. (In recent years, I've come across a few articles saying that some evangelical Christians are starting to incorporate the liturgical calendar into their religious life, so between that and the Internet, maybe little children today won't be as ignorant as I was.)

Now, as an adult and a convert to Catholicism, I know what Advent is and participate in it to some extent (translation: in my own lazy, half-arsed way.) I had some notion back in the summer about making a Jesse tree or two (one to give away), but I never got around to it. I really like the idea of Jesse trees for helping to teach children about salvation history, and there are some good resources online for making them. I like the Domestic Church's pages here and here, but you can easily find more elsewhere: try here, here, and here for starters. But like festive Christmas decorations, it just seems kind of sad and pointless to do this only for myself.

Advent is generally considered the start of the liturgical year, when we sort of mentally put ourselves back into the time when the Messiah was still expected and not yet come. So it seems to me (maybe not to anyone else) that it might be a good time to make spiritual new year's resolutions. But I'm pretty used to the Christmas Day to New Year's Day thinking-about-resolutions thing, so I never got around to that either.

A couple of other ideas fell through as well, so Advent celebration for me so far has pretty much come down to a little extra reading and using a little purple on my blog. :-/ I've many times heard of Catholics selecting some spiritual books for "Lenten reading", so why not Advent reading? The Advent reading I decided on was Isaiah and Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. The book of Isaiah is an obvious scriptural choice, and The Case for Christ, which I first heard of from Jen at Conversion Diary, is a pretty good choice too; it'd make a fine Christmas gift.

Maybe the rest of Advent will hold a little more prayer and meditation on the Messiah, and a sacrifice or two. Or maybe I'll just dig out a purple scarf to wear to church.

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