Ever since I can remember, I spend a majority of my year waiting for Christmas to come again. The wait for Christmas to come was so intense I once contemplated writing a book with ideas on how to kill time while waiting for the Christmas season to roll around. (With a sequel pertaining to birthday countdowns as well.) (I must have had a little extra time on my hands as a nine-year-old.) It’s not just Christmas day I wait for. It has always been the entire season of Christmas I look forward to. I anticipate the anticipating.
That’s the whole purpose of advent. Anticipation. Calendars, candles, Santa Claus countdowns – they are apart of everyone’s season. Wherever you go you go to this time of year there is an underlying whisper that is echoing continuously through the decorated streets, grocery aisles, and crowded malls. “Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!” This is a season dedicated to waiting.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only be the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment. -Frederick Buechner
And yet, even with all the anticipation to anticipate that’s been swelling in my belly, I seem to arrive at December first with a jolt. Suddenly it is here. The season I’ve been yearning for since at least September. The season of countdowns and waiting. But my days are no less empty than they were in November. My time has not been magically multiplied. Neither has yours, I’m guessing. We still have to work, to clean, to make meals, to do normal life. If anything, this season is busier than ever. So how do we carve out time to be still, to wait, to spend time intentionally anticipating?
Maybe you’ve already found a devotional for advent, or a special playlist to listen to, or a daily ritual to remind you to wait. But in case you’re also feeling jolted by the sight of December on your calendar, here are a few things that might be helpful as you try to put on the breaks and savor this season of anticipation.
- Ann Voskamp, my writing hero, has a large amount of resources ready for you – both for adults and for children. I am going through her devotional The Greatest Gift for my third year in a row. That might tell you something about how potent and rich her words are. She also has these printable sticky notes – short reminders for each day leading up to Christmas. Perfect for your fridge, bathroom mirror, or dashboard. More resources on her blog: aholyexperience.com
- SheReadsTruth has a current devotional series for Advent called “Born is the King.” I love these concise, scripture based devotions.
- Last year I was bold and daring and attempted to write a daily reflection during the entire Advent season. Most posts contained a chunk of scripture and a link to a fitting Christmas carol as well. Though I missed a few days here and there, it was a helpful way for me to stay consistent in my own devotions and also attempt to encourage and center those reading. This year I will continue to write on advent, just no promises on the whole daily thing. (I’m learning my limitations!) Click here for links to each post from last year, and if you want my current posts sent straight to your inbox click the “follow” or “subscribe” button on the left side of this page.
- Tsh Oxenreider – from the Art of Simple – has compiled an ‘anticipatory playlist’ on spotify. I love her choices – both traditional Christmas carols and less heard songs. There are many other advent and Christmas playlists that I’ve also been enjoying also on spotify.
- Our pastor preached an excellent message on Sunday on learning to sit at Jesus’ feet this advent season. Perhaps a reminder of what is truly important will spur us all towards an intentional advent celebration.
Whatever it is that you do to dwell in this season of Advent, may it be a sacred time of slowing, and of intentionally waiting for the coming of Christmas – the arrival of Christ our Savior!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations 3:25-26