Happy Advent, happy Sunday, happy belated Thanksgiving. Mine was okay. It was vegetarian this year, with a vegan Holiday Roast and an okayish southern style baked macaroni and cheese prepared by me. I watched Hawkeye on Disney+ (it’s cool and I’m absolutely in love with its font style/opening credits art); brought my mom lilies (keep her in prayer, please); watched Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2 with K (the original was better in my memory, but the sequel still holds up); played Crazy 8s with Joe, his wife, Z, and nephew Nate, who’s currently in the Army overseas; and started a little embroidery sampler (whew, my flower is looking rough, but I find sowing, which my mom taught me as a little girl, pretty calming, so I’m going to keep at it). I hope you had a good holiday.
As the title says, it’s the first Sunday of Advent, with the theme of Hope. This morning during vurch, the following video was played, which really brings out what is meant by hope, using Scripture, some etymology, and animation:
“Christian hope looks back to the risen Jesus in order to look forward.” I’ve been thinking about that all day- looking back, not in mourning, but as evidence that good will come. I shared a few days ago about missing my sister, and in the past, how tough this time of year is for me because of death and loss. Yet, I love Advent- despite growing up Pentecostal and then being non-denominational and it not being a thing for me until my late 20s. It’s the other side of Lent, still decked out in purple, also a way of preparation for a major holy day. After all, Jesus could not have experienced death if he had never been born.
Last year, in the midst of Covid lockdowns, I wrote about having hope. Now a year later, and with another variant triggering more lockdowns internationally, I return to the verse that encouraged me then:
In this morning’s homily, my pastor encouraged us to think back on the times when God’s promises have been fulfilled in our lives. Maybe it was through marriage, birth of a child, or a promotion at work. Maybe it was something that occurred spiritually. Maybe your life is the promise. Whatever it is, look back, despite the constant news cycles of gloom, and then forward, with hope.
The person I was having the discussion with brought up abundance. Why don’t we as Christians ever walk in the fullness of abundance? That the two of us Christians with a chronic illness should not walk out the suffering 24/7, instead, we should be focusing on the abundance given to us as the daughters of Yahweh. As we were speaking, a conversation from almost 11 years ago came to mind. It was with a gentleman who used to go to my recent church, Michael. Michael was on. a spiritual journey. He used words and theological arguments that I had never heard of in the churches I went to previously. Google was my best friend after a conversation with Michael during this time. He was hyper focused on God’s abundance. He wondered why we didn’t cultivate God’s abundance as modern Christians? I gave his question a moment of pondering and continued on with life. God wanted me to dive into this aspect of Yahweh’s character and blessing, I wasn’t ready. My belief is it is time now and I am ready. My beautiful and sweet friend brought it up almost a month ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Sooo…. I decided to write about for Advent.
What does this have to do with Advent? How are you remembering Jesus through the theology of Abundance? Well, isn’t Jesus Christ, Emmanuel the summation of all things abundant scripturally? He is freedom, he is healing, he reconciliation, he redemption, he is restoration. His Holy. Spirit is comfort, kindness, joy, peace and love.
I’m looking forward to reading what Kiki has to share over the next month. You can read the whole post here. A lot of people I know have already decked their halls (and entire houses) with tinsel and holly, listening to classic Christmas songs on Spotify. Buuuuuuttttt, there are songs appropriate for Advent. From Jonathan Aigner, at Patheos (written last year):
People of God, take time to ponder anew the mysterious reality of the Incarnation. Allow yourselves to feel the emptiness, and allow it to be filled with joyous hope in the coming Messiah, through whom all of creation would be made whole. Christmas may come but once a year, but the discipline of Advent can allow the incarnational reality to take root in our lives, and to mold us and make us into the church we’re called to be.
I’ve heard a lot of talk recently of people doing their Christmas decorating early this year, saying they need the season all the more in this strange, extraordinarily difficult year. I can understand that. But I think instead of giving into the commercial trappings of the season, we need even more to allow ourselves to experience the beauty and discipline of the Advent season. Really enter into it, feel the paucity, pray and make room. We need Jesus more than ever, so start preparing.
He provides a number of videos of hymns appropriate for the Advent season. I’ve always been a fan of this one:
And if you just can’t wait to get jingle with it, here’s Michael Bublé. Joe’s favorite. Have a great week.