It’s coming….are you ready?

“So, are you Catholic?”

Okay, I have to back up and tell a little of what happened before that question, but you have to hear that the question came with just the slightest inclination of a sneer. Just that hint, well, maybe more than a hint, of judgment.

Seriously, I mean, are you?

Here’s the story. The boys go to tutorial on Tuesdays (maybe I should begin referring to the boys as “the Trio”, that would work well with the Tuesday Tutorial…) so Miss Maddie and I stopped off at a small local coffee shop. This place is one of my favorites. The owner actually built the shop around the cabin has been in his family for ages and the wood floors date back to the 1800’s, I believe. The wood panelling in the main room is from the 70’s and his dad put it there, so it stays.

This is not Starbuck’s. This is a local spot, with local folks who stay for hours and are regulars. Maddie was playing a few toys that were there and I was talking with two men who asking about her. The questions turned eventually to if she was caught up in the “tech toys”.  I think they were pleased to see that she wasn’t playing on the iPad or other instrument at the moment and was having fun exploring.

I told her she knew her way around the computer and most of the other toys, and that like most families we were pretty tied to our technology. I just in passing mentioned that we had been thinking about taking a break from technology for Advent.

Advent.

That did it.  They didn’t hear what I said about technology any more, but they heard that one word and it labelled me in their minds.

“So, are you Catholic?

Honestly, it took me a second to figure out why on earth they were asking me about my denominational background. Then he clarified, “Advent. You do that stuff?”  When I told him I was not Catholic, but we that as a family we try to respect the season of Advent and let it stand apart, he asked why.

While I was trying to formulate a response…and still engaging Maddie…something else happened that surprised me.

“Our church is celebrating Advent.” This man is a pastor who studies at the coffee shop. I see him there often, although I’ve only talked to him a little because he is usually fairly focused on his studying. “We’re Baptist, but we observe elements of the Church Calendar. Advent. Reformation Sunday. You don’t have to be Catholic.”

That was that. We both simply said that the celebration of “Advent” meant to focus for an extended time on Christ through the Christmas season. Then we left it at that. It is not that the other men were mean, they just had always associated Advent with a part of the Church they disregard.

That’s dangerous…we miss out sometimes when we do that.

I’m thankful that the understanding of Advent seems to have spread beyond just liturgical churches. We need the rhythm of the Church Calendar. We need the help in the hectic pace of our lives to focus.

With Thanksgiving coming late this year, Advent starts immediately after, and that is coming quickly. Steve and I are praying about shutting down the technology for the season of Advent. Shutting out some of the noise, and some of the frustration of having to tell the kids to get off for the ninth time.

Shutting down some of the input so that our focus can turn to the truth of the Season.  I don’t know about you, but we need help sometimes. Sometimes it takes more than a few hours to draw our focus to Christ during Christmas, or even a few days when school is done and Christmas Day is near. Sometimes a few weeks is what is needed.

So, no, I’m not Catholic. There are some things we can learn from each other in the church, though. We can learn a bit about slowing down and focusing during this season.

It’s almost here. Are you ready? Are you making ready?

The decorations may up and the presents bought…but how are we preparing ourselves spiritually to focus during the onslaught of advertising and “want” during this season? Google Advent 2013 and there are numerous resources. We are going to use the one from  Matt Chandler’s church, The Village Church. 

I’ll write more about what this actually looks like in the coming days. Although I won’t be writing during the Advent Season, since, you know, I won’t be on the computer. We have to work out the details of how we make this work in a way that it doesn’t feel like punishment to the kids. That would be the worst…to have the idea of Advent tied to misery. Nope. That is not what it is about. It’s all about anticipation and hope and focus.

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11 thoughts on “It’s coming….are you ready?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have The Village Church app on my IPAD and listen to Matt Chandler’s sermons online frequently. I plan to check out the Advent calendar as well. Thanks for the post…and the reminder to keep our focus upward despite the chaotic noise of the commercialized Christmas season all around us.

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  2. sarahkwolfe says:

    Thanks! The Advent calendar is very well done and easy to follow, plus there are some good suggestions for families. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Noelle says:

    Such great words, Sarah.

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  4. Gary says:

    Hello,
    I’m not Catholic or orthodox or high church but I like the idea of focusing on advent (the first advent) rather than on Christmas. In fact, it makes so much sense I wish I had thought of it 35 years ago when my kids were little. Hey! My name and e mail addy are already in the box. How’d that happen? My lazy bones appreciate that. 😉

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Gary…your info might be in there because if comments on another WordPress blog, or at least that would be my guess!

      We have tried a few different things to celebrate Advent the last few years, with mixed results. I plan to write more about it this week, as we solidify our plans…but, yep, I need an extended time to help me focus!!

      Thanks for reading!

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  5. erunner says:

    Thank you for a nice article Sarah. I come from a background that dismissed Catholics totally. I am going to seriously consider on how I might observe Advent this year.

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      E…we missed out on so much when we dismiss a section of the church completely, don’t we? Advent can be a truly rich time. I’ll write more on it in a bit, but the main point is simply finding ways to bring our focus to the birth of Jesus. With all the commercialism, and with all the hectic schedule…I need the help to bring my focus together.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  6. erunner says:

    Sorry for being late to reply Sarah. I’m still working on that black and white attitude I developed early on. I got to a point where I found something lacking in everything spiritual I came across. It’s like a reflex and I have much growing to do in that area. Now off to read some more of your blog!

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Thanks, E, for reading!!! I think we can become very cynical and find something wrong in each thread of tradition. Still, I think we can also find things that help us in our walk. We still have to use discernment and wisdom, but we can find some true blessings where we might not expect them.

      Hoping this Advent season surprises you 😉

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