Advent is Here!

If you observe the liturgical year, then let me wish you a Happy New Year as you celebrate the first Sunday in Advent. If you use an advent wreath or candles and already have them out, good for you! Here are a couple of resources you might not know about to enrich your Advent experience as you prepare your heart to celebrate the nativity of the King of Kings.

Flock Notes’ Carpe Verbum text messages for Scripture reading, prayer, and thoughtful action

You can read the blog but it’s more convenient for many of us to get their daily text for reading, praying, and listening to God as preparation for how you will live out the day. There’s even a nifty image and capsulized message that can be saved and used for your lock and/or home screen. The content was written with teens in mind but I haven’t found this to be limiting. In fact, some of the features designed for the younger mindset come in handy for the over 50 crowd as well–both my mom and I are using the daily screenshot reminder of that day’s key point, along with an Advent candle graphic, to keep our Advent focus going in a festive yet practical way.

http://www.carpeverbum.org/

Young Oceans’ Advent album for a soundtrack

Good contemporary music for Advent is hard to find. So imagine my surprise when I went searching this morning on Amazon Music Unlimited this morning and found this gem! I am mesmerized by its perfectly pleasing mellow harmonies and lovely musical textures, not to mention the solid Advent lyrics. Plus, the multiple instrumental pieces are both soothing and uplifting with an anticipatory feel to them. I’m a musical fussbudget but this is something reminiscent of both Taizé and Jars of Clay but altogether its own sound. If you’re looking for something new for Advent, I highly recommend sampling this.

https://smile.amazon.com/Advent-Deluxe-Young-Oceans/dp/B00BKBJUYA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512318686&sr=8-1&keywords=young+oceans+advent#customerReviews

What are some of your favorite Advent resources? Please feel free to share. Have a blessed season of preparation to celebrate Christ’s birth!

 

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First Friday in Advent: A Prayer for this Season

Prepare a way for you, Lord?
I’ve got lots of work to do!

Help me prepare a way for you into my home, Lord:
help me find a place, a room, a corner, a chair
where you and I can meet each day to pray.
Perhaps I’ll put a candle there, with a Bible;
maybe a statue or a picture; a rosary or a prayer card:
something to mark the spot as the place I keep
to go each day to sit and rest, to take a deep breath,
to remember your presence and open my heart in prayer.

Help me prepare a way for you on my calendar,
an “appointment” each day;
even just ten minutes for you and me to get together,
to talk about the day, its ups and downs,
and get to know each other just a little better than yesterday.

Help me prepare a way for you to enter my thoughts, Lord.
When I’m trying to figure things out, nudge me
to ask for your guidance and counsel,
your Spirit and your wisdom,
when I’m making decisions and choices.
Help me prepare a way for you, Lord,
in my family and among my friends, at work and at school,
in my parish and in my neighborhood.
Help me prepare a way for you to come into the hearts
of those around me who are alone.

Help me prepare a way for you, Lord,
in the crazy rush of Christmas all around me.
Help me remember it’s your birthday
and that you should get some presents—from me.
Help me remember the poverty of your nativity:
make your way into my wallet and spend generously
on those whose needs are so much greater than my own.
Help me remember that of all the gifts I might receive,
none is greater than the love you have for me.

Help me prepare a way for you
to enter my life decisively, Lord.
In the quiet of my prayer, Lord,
help me clear the path you walk into my life, into my soul.

In the stillness of my prayer, Lord,
help me see you as you make your way towards me,
and show me that no matter the roadblocks I put up,
you’ll find a way to come, to enter,
and to fill me with your presence. Amen.

From Good Morning, Good God! by Fr. Austin Fleming, The Word Among Us Press, 2015, via

https://wau.org/resources/article/a_prayer_for_advent/

 

Epiphany & The Well of the Star: A Review

Elizabeth Goudge vs Tolkien vs. Lewis vs. L’Engle vs. Jan Karon: whose fiction would I want if I could only have one of these cherished authors’ works–or even only one work of theirs? With no disrepect to the others, it’s a no brainer: Elizabeth Goudge, especially The Scent of Water. But I digresss…

Today is the traditional day for the feast of the Epiphany and this novella published in 1941 is a delightful read for any age; in fact, it only improves with the reader’s age, in my estimate. In Miss Goudge’s story the Magi arrive simultaneously with the shepherds instead of when Baby Jesus was actually a toddler, when Herod’s infamous slaughter of the innocents (all boys two and under) was carried out and the Holy Family makes their flight into Egypt.

Her writing, as always, clearly conjures up the physical and emotional geography; the vivid imagery of both the external and internal worlds of her characters abounds. The feast of Epiphany is the penultimate one during Christmastide before the Baptism of the Lord and the beginning of our new liturgical year’s Ordinary Time the Monday after that. This story, in its simplicity and earnestness, encapsulates both the Ordinary Time of the church year–the normal day in, day out life of a shepherd boy–as well as its times of celebration (wise men bringing three significant gifts to celebrate the birth of the most important person in the world). Learning to accept that our life “is what it is” at any given moment but that we are not without hope–as the appearance of an extraordinary guardian angel reveals–reminds us that times of suffering will not usually go on forever without respite, that even the most grim of outcomes may be reversed through unlikely means, and that even a simple shepherd boy may get to count himself friends of a wise man (although not his surly camel!).

This book is an expensive out of print title and is a relatively hard book to find in a library but well worth checking for (or obtaining via ILL) and/or keeping an eye out at used book stores for a copy, for those who find themselves smitten by it as I did several years ago. My copy comes from a nearby regional library’s book sale table. I was horrified by how little it had been checked out after the mid-50s, even though it is a small town library. What a waste!

Again, although most Christians in the U.S. who celebrate Epiphany did so on Sunday, here’s to a blessed remembrance of that feast. If you have a favorite short story, read aloud, novella, or even novel involving Epiphany, I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

 

 

 

“On the Twelfth Day of Christmas…”

“My true love gave to me:

Decluttering help,

Help with household messes,

Shared special movie,

More help with my stuff,

Helped find my laptop,

Fended for his supper,

One Post-It love note,

Huge favor done!

POI* bingeing,

11 hours’ sleep,

dishwasher loaded,

and my own blog domain name.”

“On the Eleventh Day of Christmas…”

“My true love gave to me:

Help with household messes,

Shared special movie,

More help with my stuff,

Helped find my laptop,

Fended for his supper,

One Post-It love note,

Huge favor done!

POI* bingeing,

11 hours’ sleep,

dishwasher loaded,

and my own blog domain name.”

“On the Sixth Day of Christmas…”

“My true love gave to me:

One Post-It love note,

Huge favor done!

POI* bingeing,

11 hours’ sleep,

dishwasher loaded,

and my own blog domain name.”

*Person of Interest episodes

“On the Fifth Day of Christmas…”

“My true love gave to me:

Huge favor done!

POI* bingeing,

11 hours’ sleep,

dishwasher loaded,

and my own blog domain name.”

*Person of Interest episodes

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