Advent 2021

The First Sunday of Advent is nearly upon us. 

Although I didn’t grow up with this tradition, I’ve embraced it in adulthood and it has become one of my favourite ways to prepare my heart for the celebration of Christmas, sharpening my focus on Christ in a season that leans toward a frantic pace. I love it all — trimming the tree, carols and treats, Christmas lights in our PJs, TV specials and movies, presents and laughter — but I need the quiet longing of Advent to anchor my hope in the One who embodies it, bring the peace that passes all understanding, fill my heart with unshakeable joy, wrap me up in unconditional love.

Nearly ten years ago I created a feature for my radio show called “Advent in Action”, with small ways to bring the themes of Advent to life in my ordinary day, keep Christ at the centre and share hope, peace, joy and love. As I revisit that list this week, I’m reading this passage from John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John 1:1-18 (NIV)

May this Advent season stir up a genuine longing for Jesus, the Light of the World.

Advent in Action

A Handful of Diamonds

A warm, sunny, windy afternoon in November calls for some fresh air.

We stood at the bottom of a huge nearby hill, chatting with another mom while my 4 year old played happily in the sticks and grass. Suddenly he ran up to me with his hand extended.

“Here mom,” he said.

“Hmm?” I asked and distractedly stuck out my hand.

“Here, take this,” he urged.

He clearly had something to give me so I turned my face just in time to see him pour a small mound of dirt into my palm, then run back to his playing.

“What’s this?” I called after him.

“A prize!” he called. “For you!”

Oh my heart! I looked at the dry earth in my cupped hand, half-tempted to pour it into my pocket and keep it forever. But it wasn’t the dirt I wanted to keep; it was the moment itself. It was the image of a small boy, happy, creative and carefree, filling his mom’s hand with soft, grainy, dusty, grey dirt.

A handful of diamonds to me.

I slowly let the dirt slip through my fingers and blow away in the strong wind, planting the moment deep into my heart alongside the people and places and things immortalized there, although they may no longer occupy space on this earth. 

Wandering through that space, I can pick out the memories that have been redeemed, the ones that are still in process, and the ones that have become pure joy for me. I can see the beauty of God’s healing work in my life and the gift of His grace through people and places and things. It’s a museum of His faithfulness in my life and I am amazed. There is space for more, and for that I am grateful.

Praise the Lord that He is weaving the fabric of our lives through people and places and things! Nothing is wasted. Each moment we experience brings us the gift of memories that teach us, mold us, heal us, help us, shape us. They are the lingering gifts of His grace.

One day, Lord-willing, in my old age, I will wander through the vibrant rooms of my life and gather what’s left to share with those around me. I am praying that they are a reflection of God’s goodness and faithfulness in my life — true treasures.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

A glimpse of the big hill