Advent is almost here and due to the nature of family ministry to properly plan several months in advance, the orders have arrived, the rooms have been reserved, the graphics have been designed, promotion and the staging has begun. We set the table for our families to celebrate the greatest birth on and for the planet in multiple ways, multiple spaces, and for multiple generations. 

Each advent and lent we church staff share the amazing accounts of Jesus’ birth and resurrection. I want to always share with great energy and contagious joy every year, so I begin studying or lingering in The Word specific to these two major accounts of our faith early on. I want to be so excited to share some new knowledge or understanding or even a few new questions that I can’t wait for the season to get here.

As I wait for Advent, this is how I’ll be prepared this year…

Read one chapter of Luke’s gospel on the matching day of December. The gospel of Luke is a beautiful narrative of Jesus’ arrival, life, departure, and return. Twenty-four chapters in twenty-four days ending on Christmas Eve. There are Bible apps to hear it read aloud or I’ll read a different translation than in year’s past. Either way, the gospel of Luke becomes the pop-up book of Advent, family friendly to be read aloud, and I hear something fresh every year.

Grow my faith-files in some way of Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna. Think of a faith-file as a file folder of the same topic, idea, or person which grows over time in study and The Word. J. Ellsworth Kalas wrote in Christmas from the Backside that Christmas is a gal’s holiday starting with Mary and Elizabeth. Since then I’ve read Liz Curtis Higgs’ The Women of Christmas and other beautiful teachings to deep dive into the lives of these three women in scripture. This year I discovered Dandi Daley Mackall’s Three Wise Women: 40 Devotions Celebrating Advent with Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna in early October. I continue to grow my deep love and adoration for these three women. Last year I seemed closest to Anna. This year, Elizabeth.

One of my thoughts this year about Elizabeth: When I think of God calling both Liz & Z ‘righteous’, I’m thinking Liz was a praying gal. Both from the tribe of Levi, they led a long life following the rhythm of temple service. What if Z was chosen because of the faithful prayers of Liz? What if year after year Liz reminded Z in jest, but not really, that if given the chance to enter the Holy of Holies to pray, might he mention in that holy place that they desperately wanted a child? Mary had lots of relatives. What if….Liz & Z were chosen by God to give birth to the one who “prepares the way for the Lord” in their old age as a direct result of a righteous, long-suffering woman praying faithfully for her man?

This will be the last Advent like ‘this’, so I will be fully present. For those of us in denominational turmoil, our church families will not look like they do today in 12 months. Let’s just be real. First, it’ll be okay because change and sifting is evidence of the movement of the Holy Spirit. Second, it’ll be okay because God is active and alive in the world, in my world, and He is trustworthy. He and I have history and I’m good. So, I will ‘so order my life’ to be fully present for every opportunity to gather and celebrate this Advent season with everybody in every way. I will build in time to linger and grow deeper relationships with Jesus at the center for such a time as this.

I’m going to learn how to make cheese straws. Food is part of all good celebrations and learning how to do something new with a little person is a very sticky way for making a holiday even more special. Since I have no self-control when it comes to cookies, cheese straws it is. I’ve borrowed a friend’s cookie press and I’m going to have a great time with a Little Miss who loves learning new things as much as I do. We’ll be listening to the Spotify playlist: The Chosen’s Christmas.

How are you waiting for Advent?

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5