Atmosphere of wonder, not punishment…

I wrote yesterday about Advent, just touching on the idea that we will do something different during this season.  I know the whole concept of Advent is still a bit strange to many who did not grow up in liturgical churches. We are fairly ignorant of the rhythm of the church calendar in the other denominations.

Advent begins this Sunday, December 1st, and it ends on Christmas Eve (well, actually I think it officially ends on the Feast of Epiphany…my truly liturgical friends will have to help me out with that).  You can find all kinds of resources just by searching Advent 2013. Loads of places have devotionals, and of course there are a frightening array of Advent Calendar apps  you could download, including a zombie one.  Yep, even Advent is commercialized and sought out for entertainment and profit value.

Don’t let that stop you. Ignore the noise and focus on the benefit.

We are still deciding what our Advent season will look like; we’ve talked about shutting down technology altogether. TV, iPods, iPads, FaceBook. That’s fairly drastic, and there is a slight danger there. See, the goal is, especially with kiddos, to create an atmosphere and a frame of mind that is focused on the true Reality of Christmas.

Creating the space and the environment where we can think about the enormity of God-made-flesh, of Incarnation. Of all that that means, and all that that holds for us.

Of Hope.

Of Gospel. 

Of Truth.

Of Awe.

What we don’t want to do is take away all the fun and make an atmosphere that is more resembling punishment than adoration. The memories of Christmas that we are hoping for are a rhythm of Advent that sets this season apart from the rest of the year, but not because we simply took the toys away and asked the kids to contemplate the nativity set.

That won’t cut it.

Instead…we set aside a bit of the normal and increase the amount of wonder.  We string twinkling lights that make us smile, and we use them to talk about joy. We play with the nativity set and talk about the journey of wisemen and shepherds, of Mary and Joseph. We light candles and read Scripture. We enhance the normal with extraordinary.  We minimize the technology so we can hear the wonder of the simplicity.

A star leading shepherds. Wise men coming to worship. Birth of a King.

Okay, maybe not so simple. Still…wonder.

So, over the next few days until Advent begins I’ll continue to give some ideas, and I’ll also be reposting some articles from last year. I’m going to pester you now, and remind you to make some plans for wonder in the midst of the shopping and the cooking and the school plays. They can be wonder as well.

Sometimes we need a little help in finding the wonder and in being intentional about something, especially for an extended period, so each day I will also include a few links with ideas about how to celebrate and engage in Advent.

Just one link today, but if you follow this link, you will find a variety of resources:

Christine Sine has a fantastic list of resources. Grab a cup of coffee and spend some time reading through her Advent pages.

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8 thoughts on “Atmosphere of wonder, not punishment…

  1. Thanks for mentioning the resources at Godspace. We will also also be posting daily reflections during the season starting with a podcast at the beginning of each week. Definitely need to carve out time for quiet reflection

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  2. Sarah says:

    Thanks, Christine for coming by! I will continue to link to your reflections as we enter the Advent season…

    Sarah

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  3. Xenia says:

    I appreciate your Advent articles, Sarah.

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  4. erunner says:

    I’m learning a bit more about Advent having read this article and went to Christine Sine’s website. The video with the song she made was beautiful to watch and listen to.

    Advent is not Lent was a phrase I heard from one of her links. I was thinking Advent was about giving up something to focus more on Christmas where it’s more of an anticipation and preparation for a very important visitor.

    An Advent Examen seemed like a good site that makes it easy for someone like me to do readings during this time. I’m not quite sure how to incorporate music into the readings so maybe you can help me out a little in this area??

    I know I’ll require something pretty simple in the sense of being new to all of this that I can follow.

    Simply following through with Advent would be an achievement for me as I’m so all over the place and can be quite undisciplined.
    Thanks for making this available Sarah.

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Yep…I am going to write a bit more on that probably on Friday. Advent is a season of “more”, but I know for our family we have to set some things aside in order to have “more”.

      If I try to simply add on more activities in the midst of our already very full life, it sometimes because simply frustrating.

      Taking away something that is not necessary (electronics) and replacing it with something that brings delight and wonder, it sets the season apart from other times of the year. The balance for us, with young ones, is making that not feel like punishment. Especially with boys who might argue the electronics are in fact a necessity 😉

      I will post some more sights tomorrow and Friday and Saturday with ideas for Advent, and with readings. There are quite a few that also incorporate music. If you look at The Village Church Advent Guide, they actually have a playlist set up on Spotify (which you can use for free) to go along with the readings.

      And, yes, even following through with Advent in anyway can be a great help. I’m with you on being undisciplined, and the focus of Advent is wonderful.

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  5. erunner says:

    I’m going to be seeking to do this by myself not including anyone else. The Village Church seems more for family. I am very open to you suggesting a site that you feel might best fit the needs of a first timer doing this alone. I’m sure the sites you will be posting tomorrow will all be great but might make a choice for me a bit more difficult. I am listening to David Nevue now and it’s very nice background music. I also have music from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother Of The Eucharist and Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Could I somehow incorporate this type music into Advent? Thanks Sarah.

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