Last week my hubby and I entered one of our local drug stores, you know the kind which sell everything from groceries to cosmetics to drugs.
And we were greeted upon entry by a very large display. It seemed that Advent had gone viral, in a commercial sense. It was so blatant, I was shocked. I could buy an "advent" calendar with a lego theme, an NHL theme, and a variety of Disney characters. I went on line, and just in case you don't want to know, there is an advent calendar for alcohol, and even for marijuana. This was even reported on the news.
For tea lovers like myself, I can go to my favourite tea store and buy a calendar with a new tea for every day in December until Christmas. This is a bit tempting.
But quite frankly, the commercialiation bothers me. The time of Advent has always been a sacred one in my eyes, and it has become obnoxiously secular.
I have participated in the Season of Advent for years, and written about it, if you look up past blogs. I enjoyed creating an Advent time with my kids when they were little, the emphasis was on doing things together and looking for ways to bless others.
Advent is a Latin word from the word "adventus", which means coming. In the church, this word Advent was used to speak of "the coming of the Saviour". Thus the origin of the Advent season is about waiting... waiting for this "coming".
When someone is coming, there is a waiting, and also a time of preparation. I like to think of Advent in those terms.
With waiting, there is also a "yearning" which I doodled about this week, as I began my own Advent preparation of the heart. We yearn with hope for a better world, for healed relationships, for good connections with people we love. If you have an Advent wreath with the candles, the first candle usually represents HOPE.
Recently, I had a difficult conversation with a patient who had lost hope, and this person told me quite frankly that my prayers were not working anymore.
As I digested that information, I recognized the yearning... the longing for health and wholeness. It is not easy to feel lousy much of the time and my heart ached with this person.
We live in a broken world, and encounter suffering all around us. Sometimes that suffering is our own. And I thought about yearning... and longing for the Advent of One who comes... and who also gives us the great hope of life beyond this broken world... where there will be no more pain or suffering.
We start advent with Hope. With yearning for the coming of a Saviour who promises hope, the forever kind. And as we live in that hope, it gives us courage to live each day with meaning and purpose.
I'm including some resources here for an advent season minus the chocolates. Pray-as-You-Go has a advent devotional you can follow on-line, and I plan to participate in that. This is a lovely reflection offered by the Jesuit community. https://pray-as-you-go.org/prayer-resources/messengers-of-joy-advent-2017/
There are also many other advent devotionals on-line and in print, if you have a favourite, feel free to comment and share!
I've also created two art pieces where you can jot a word, a thought, or a verse for every day. If you want the full jpgs, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will e-mail them to you. These can be printed on a sheet of paper and each have a space for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. For the children, I found stickers to use, and they could participate that way.
However you participate in this season, may it be filled with hope.