For the last couple of years, I've kinda leaned back toward my Anglican/Episcopal roots at the beginning of Advent. I've pulled out the lectionary, Advent readings and participated in #adventword, the global Advent calendar.
This year the word prompts at #adventword, like "wild and prune," were unexpected. They seemed to connect language from the heavens to my Instagram feed as I pondered and wrote about how each of them relates to our relationship with Christ and the waiting of Advent.
In the midst of it I realized this truth: we. move. so. fast.
There is so much to accomplish, to get done, to do.
As I noticed this, I allowed this year to slow down. I did a little less with and went more slowly in the Christmafying of the house. Some greens went up, a few lights and the tree, but it was all related to pondering and looking forward, not the mad (read: commercial display) dash. There was Advent.
I lit the lovely candles of Advent almost daily and considered ideas from Jen Naraki's Slow & Sacred Advent and some of the considerations from Tsh at The Simple Show. Along the way, I found Advent resources at the Homely Hours, and Sacred Ordinary Days (they sell a wonderful spiritually based planner enticing me into study and daily practices of consideration). I immediately felt a slowing, began noticing and drank in some quiet.
These are my intentions, connection to the King each day, each hour, seamless connection and slowing to breathe in all He's placed around me which leads to the quieting of my spirit. Quiet.
I observed 12 days of Christmas this year. If not making it a planned thing - a doing thing - I just made it so clear, Advent is 24 long waiting, preparing, wanting days before Christmas. And when it arrives, Christmas is the celebration, 12 days of vacating our work lives and enjoying the gifts of time and family and friendships.
Surprisingly, the Christmas Eve service we attended at our church this year was different. Led by our gospel choir and team, it began with Christmas songs and carols and quickly moved into worship songs - deep and heartfelt and oh-so-appropriate for Christmas, but rarely the norm. It was longer than normal. Different than what I'm used to and very relevant to my heart. It moved me, blurring the line between celebrating Christ's birth and worshipping Him as the alive and day-to-day Savior He is. It was good tension. It made Christmas about worshipping the living King. It played into my shift this Christmas. Or drove it further.
So on to Epiphany - the epiphany of Jesus himself, right in front of me and also, the Feast of Epiphany. I chalked my door, asking for blessing - (something I need when I'm off with my Dear to drive my college girl to the airport). And I find myself enthused. Not to remove the tree and the house lights, but to walk forward from Christmas and into the season of Epiphany.
My eyes and heart are open to recognize more of who Jesus is. To grow in Epiphany.