Monthly Archives: December 2014

Advent Day 2: Make all things beautiful

Today we put up our company’s Christmas decorations. And when I say “we”, I mean that my colleague said to me “alright Mel, let’s go,” and the two of us we went down (literally down one floor, to the cupboard otherwise neglected all year round) and dug up our decorations (literally dug up, from beneath several other boxes), and proceeded to put them up around our area. My job, as always with any decorating in our office, was to climb up on the available chairs, desks and cabinets in a decidedly non-health-and-safety-approved venture to stick things in the right places. The two of us were the elves, the angels, the fairies of Christmas; laughing at ourselves and making others laugh at our attempts to make limited supplies look festive.

Decorations are a symbol of celebration. Without decorations, Christmas as we know it now isn’t quite the same. The “Christmas spirit” is introduced with the colours, the tinsel, the bells, the stars, the lights. Decorations are a visual which I enjoy, too; full of symbolism for this thing we celebrate soon.

And I will celebrate. Advent is hope and waiting – anticipation. It’s anticipation for a great and wondrous thing – so wondrous that the heavens broke open to reveal crowds of angels singing over and over again of it. God came to earth – God became a baby. God used the weakest things to show Himself to us, purely for the love of us, and the world has never been the same because of it. God made a manger wonderful, He made a donkey memorable, a star indescribeable, and a slip of a girl and an honest-hearted man infamous forever. God makes all things beautiful in their time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Commercialism runs rampant these couple of months, and the busyness gets out of control around us. I must buy, I must give, and do that, and see this part of the family and go to this dinner and that party and finish things at work, and oh those Christmas cards and those work do-es and let’s not even get started on what we’re going to do about food on the day… These things seep through the stores and into our minds if we’re not careful – but I want to be careful. I will be careful, I will celebrate Jesus this season, not – whatever it is the commercialism is trying to sell and the cynics and commercialism rebels avoid.

Later for the colleague alone in her office this month with no decorations, we came in and took over, stringing tinsel above her whiteboard and over her computer. There’s no point if we’re not all going to celebrate together. There’s no point if anyone is left out, no matter where they’re at. We um – “borrowed” some decorations from one of the other companies to do this. Shhhh.

Celebration is multiplied when we think of ways to share joy. Celebration is multiplied when the shepherds are included for no real reason except perhaps that there’s suddenly a reason for humankind to celebrate, to rejoice. And as rejoicing multiplies, God is glorified.

We have to carry joy with us, lest the world try to hand us worry instead – and we have to hold on to that precious joy with both hands, lest the world drown us in lies and force us to forget. Put up your tree and drape that tinsel – turn on the lights, hang the bells. Or put up something else, or start making things, or cooking things – whatever it is that helps you celebrate. But choose to celebrate. And better – choose to carry that celebration with you, whichever moment you’re in. Quiet wonder, thrill of hope, shouts of joy, all. His birth was 2000 years ago but it’s no less real. Let’s join with God to make all things beautiful, now.

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Advent


Advent Day 1: Begin to reflect

Advent is the lead up to Christmas. Advent is hoping. Advent is waiting. Advent now, for Christians, is a specific time where we reflect on Christmas, intentionally, and the meaning of the incarnation – the better to know Christmas, the better to be Christians, and the better to know Christ.

So this first day should be the beginning of reflection.

Stop and breathe, everyone says. Stop and reflect. Just stop a moment, take a breath and reflect on ____ [insert topic of the day here]. This is a phrase we are used to. Our life is busyness, or at the very least, crowded and distracting. So almost as often as we tell each other to keep moving, keep doing, keep participating – do we also tell each other to stop. We can keep a measure of sanity this way – moving and stopping. Move and stop.

You see, in my own mind I treat the “just stop a moment, and reflect” thing as a thing in itself – a popular phrase, and a way to sound like, or believe that, you’re above the busyness somehow. Of course it holds great value, but it can also get a bit secularised, and become what may essentially amount to a method for reaching a state of self-actualisation. It can become a cool thing to say.

I both do and don’t want to “stop”. Life is movement, and stillness, together. There are seasons to press on and seasons to pull back – times to pursue something and times to think on something. But often, it’s the right time to do both. Be active, participate – and know that He is God, just as actively and no less surely. Learn the meaning – be still to learn it, and do this actively also. It may surprise some of you to know that I can’t stay still too long. My resting place is precious – and only when I have that can I happily get on with my life. Sometimes, my resting place isn’t physically stopping for half an hour in the morning.

How else can I describe this? I want to reflect. I want to contemplate. I want more than anything to learn the meaning of the incarnation – God coming to us. But I don’t want to be limited by a posture, or even a tradition. These things have great value, but they aren’t the thing themselves. I’m not in a place of wanting to completely draw back because it’s Advent – I still want to live, and see, and hear, and also tell. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

This is a season of joy, of peace, of adoration, giving, suffering and glory. What would it mean not only to fully understand these things, but for my life to reflect them completely?

I’ve opened only one Advent resource website to assist me so far – but this is as far as I’ll go today. Today, I begin to reflect.

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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Advent