For the past few years, I haven't been so great at practicing Advent in my own heart. Oh sure, I did all the little toddler and preschool advent activities because I was determined to make sure my kids knew what Christmas was really about. But me and my own heart? Well, I had to make sure I was on top of everything else this month too -- decorating, cooking, planning, social calendar, list-making, shopping, and wrapping of course.
Who has time for expectant, hopeful, quiet waiting? Not in December. Plus I already know what Christmas is really about. It's about Jesus and giving and miracles and all that. Got it. Now if I only had one more big drapy garland for my mantle, it would be perfect!
We were riding home from Pittsburgh this weekend after a fun Thanksgiving with family. The car was pretty quiet with little ones watching a movie and my husband, who was driving, was listening to sports talk radio. In the dark and quiet, I decided to put on my headphones and finally listen to some Christmas music. I looked up my absolute favorite song, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I closed my eyes and let the words soak into my heart. In that moment, that soul-crushing expectancy washed over me and I actually got tears in my eyes because this song is so haunting. And the perfect way to usher in my own personal Advent season.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Talk about a nation who was expectantly waiting. Not for presents, or more decorations, or parties though. The Israelites had been waiting for ages and generations for a Savior to release them from the bondage of sin and legalism. I've been trying to imagine what it must have been like for them. To live before Jesus came to free us with His radical grace. To be true love in the flesh. For them, the very first Christmas meant HOPE.
I don't want this Christmas to fly by and all I think about is the cute songs, and fun parties, and snow and lights. Sure, all of those things are lovely and keep me in the spirit. But I long for a fall on your knees in awe and gratitude and exhaustion because God has sent a Savior, His own son to save me. In my utter weakness, I am finally free. There is now HOPE. I don't want to be so concerned with my shopping list, or with making sure my kids know all the verses and meaning behind them that I forget to let the hope of the season work in my own heart.
I am so excited to be collaborating with Nathalie, Carrie and Cassidy this month as we attempt to practice a worshipful Advent!
Today, and the next 3 Monday’s leading up to Christmas Day, we’re inviting you to link-up with us and share your advent-inspired art by each week’s theme. Creative writing, music, painting, crafting, photography, typography, drawing…. The possibilities are endless.
And there are several ways you join us!
// You can link your blog post here or on any of the host’s blogs.
// You can also post a picture or video on twitter, facebook, or instagram and tag it #artfuladvent
// And you can find and follow the Artful Advent collection on The Art of Worship Pinterest page, where we’ll be pinning our art and YOURS.
Artful Advent Themes:Week 1, December 2nd: Hope
Week 2, December 9th: Love
Week 3, December 16th: Joy
Week 4, December 23rd: Peace
This is a busy season for all of us, so feel free to share past writings, art pieces, photos, music, etc–as long as it speaks to the theme. I’m so excited to celebrate this Advent season with you. I can’t wait to see the incredible art that you share!
Today, our theme is HOPE. As photography is my favorite form of art, I am planning to share a series of photographs each week, alongside my thoughts about our theme. I chose to photograph my daughter's open hands as a sign that we bring nothing to God that would deserve such grace poured out for us. The work of our hands this Christmas, even when we serve others, is still not worthy of God's glory. It's only His grace alone that we are redeemed. So we offer our empty hands, open in expectation for Him to fulfill His promises to us.
Please share whats on your heart this week as you enjoy the season of Advent. Link up below!