I love the season of Advent. It is the time of the year that we “expectantly wait” for the coming of the Christ child. This year the first Sunday in Advent landed on November 29th. Some people love to get an advent calendar and open the little door each day before Christmas arrives. Inside is usually a little prize, a piece of chocolate and I understand that Costco had a Wine advent calendar with a tiny bottle of wine for each day. That seems fitting for 2020 doesn’t it? I’m sure they were sold out immediately!
The four Sundays before Christmas are celebrated by the church with the lighting of candles. The darkness of winter and the shortest day of the year gives us a chance to pause and reflect. Usually, an Advent wreath is an evergreen wreath with four candles surrounding a fifth white candle in the center. The first candle is lit during a time of reflection, reading scripture, and prayer. An additional candle is lit on each subsequent Sunday until, by the last Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lit. Finally, the Christ candle is lit either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some families practice this in their homes. Many churches include this practice in their worship services.
When our children were young, one year we were invited as a family to light the candles during the church service. Our young son had the important job of lighting the candle and our daughter read the scripture passage. There is something transformative for me when I think of that memory. Where has the time gone? How did they grow up so quickly? Our grandchildren are the same age as my kids were when we did this and the memory is still vivid and eternal for me.
Each of the candles has a focus and a corresponding set of scriptures that tell the Christmas story. The four candles signify Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. After a year like this one nearly past, who of us doesn’t need more hope, peace, joy, and love in our lives?
It is said that during Advent we are in between the time of the “already” and the “not yet”. We are all anticipating Christmas but it is not here yet. I too am experiencing an in-between time. I think I’m “already” to retire but I have three more months. I’m in the “not yet” time. I’m working every day in my little office and the days are growing short. But I have so much to be excited about as I anticipate my new life.
Right now, I’m looking forward to the Winter Solstice Walk in my little town of Snohomish.
Our tradition is to light hundreds of little candles along a pathway near the river and celebrate the shortest day of the year. The next day, December 22nd, we will begin to experience longer days, minute by minute, and the light of the sun will return.
I’m so happy that my daughter and her family love advent season too. She creates her own advent wreath, lights the candles as she did as a little girl, and shares a devotion with her husband and two boys.
Like all of us, I am waiting for this year to end and a new year to begin. But in an “out of control year”, I am learning that the only thing I can control is my attitude and how I approach this very strange Christmas season. May the lights of this advent return to all of us in 2021!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.