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Advent is our time to prepare for the birth of the child king Jesus.  As these weeks begin, we will spend time in the Level I atrium first with the prophecies that told of Jesus’s birth and then the wonderful, miraculous news of his incarnation.  We will listen, practice patience, and wonder what he will be like.  Then, when silence fills the room (in itself a miracle!), when we all hear the sound of our collective expectation, it is as if we see that one bright shining star ourselves, together.

At home, it’s difficult to hold on to this feeling.  I see myself not so much waiting and contemplating but trying to just get through these days.  And then when I do cull out a moment to rest, perhaps even to reflect on what’s to come, I don’t anticipate … I worry!  What will happen next?  Have I prepared enough? Will I be able to explain it so that my son understands and is comforted?  Or so that I understand and am comforted?

I can’t answer these questions.  But I find peace in the Advent wreath that we’ll bring into our home for these weeks of late November through December.  I appreciate its methodical reminder of the light that we catch glimpses of in the atrium, in church, in the happy moments, and in the hard ones, too.

We now have two wreaths: (1) a gold pine-coney, fake-greenery version I found at a Christian bookstore a few years ago when I decided we needed to start celebrating with an Advent wreath at home; and (2) a beautiful, simple pottery version given to us just last year by my good friend and my son’s Godmother, Alice.  This second wreath is the one we’ll use this year.  Decorated with evergreens and other trimmings from our yard, it could look like this:

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Our home Advent celebration is like us:  sometimes reverent and complete; sometimes rushed and inescapably imperfect.   On our more liturgical nights, this resource, which draws from the Book of Common Prayer’s Evening Prayer service, helps with the structure: http://kingofpeace.org/resources/advent.pdf.   Other nights, we say a direct prayer such as this and we’re done: “Lord Jesus, we can’t wait for you to come! Amen.”

But without fail we light the candles for every meal, plus even just when the mood strikes us, and this simple practice creates a small space for wonder and ritual in my sometimes jumbled and worrisome life.

And that small space is made even brighter by songs!  Here are 2 favorites from the atrium:

(1)  Light one candle

Light one candle for hope

One bright candle for hope

He brings hope to everyone

He comes, he comes

[Repeat each week, adding , love, peace, joy in the place of “hope”]

(2)  Come, Lord Jesus

Come Lord Jesus,

Come Lord Jesus,

Come Lord Jesus,

Come and be born in our hearts.

[Repeat with other names: Emmanuel, O Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, King of Kings]

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What about you?  How do you celebrate this time of waiting?  Does anyone else out there hold onto their Advent wreaths like a life preserver?