Today ends the first week of Advent – a period of four weeks before Christmas set aside as preparation for the Christ Child. So, while on the one hand we are “getting ready for Christmas” in a secular way, in a more spiritual vein we engage in reading, study and prayer preparing our hearts to welcome Christ.
Each year I must get my head and heart into the Advent mode early. During the month of November I compile and edit an Advent devotional booklet. So while turkeys cook and football dominates, my mind is on Christmas poems, carols and essays. Members and friends of First United Methodist Church contribute written thoughts and memories related to the season and these are arranged into a book with one reading for each day of Advent (28 days this year). This Fall, as I was working on the project, I was also reading 25 Days 26 Ways by Ace Collins. This book is filled with activities to enhance a Christmas celebration.
One I chose this year is, beginning with December 1, to read every day a chapter of the Gospel of Luke. There are 25 chapters in that gospel, so during the days leading up to the celebration of His birth, I will be reading about the life and ministry of Jesus. Somewhere in my studies this past year, I read that scholars believe Luke received his information about the life of Jesus from Mary, Jesus’ mother. As I was reading the first few chapters this week, I thought of this. Twice the scriptures said, “Mary pondered these things in her heart.” And this gospel tells of the child Jesus who said he “must be about his father’s business.” I can just imagine a mother telling that. And so my fascination in a story I have read and heard countless times has been enhanced by the thought that Jesus’ mother is telling about his birth and childhood. Writers call it point of view and it makes all the difference in the telling of a story.
The first week of Advent for me has also included attending the Center on the Square production of “Miracle on 34th Street” and the ASU-Beebe performance of “A Christmas Carol.” And a spectacular Christmas parade – a mile long with the ROTC, 15 floats and the Beebe High School Marching Band. I live on the parade route and my yard was full of spectators.
The rest of the month will bring cantatas, parties, potlucks and angel trees. I’ll keep you posted.