The Order of Advent

I admit: I like order. Though there may be dust on my kitchen cabinets, inside them I know (usually and mostly) where I’ll find the serving spoons. I may have to search for a can of tomatoes, but (usually and mostly), my spices are in alphabetical order. Although choosing the right greeting card may take time, I (usually and mostly) know where to find the postage stamps.

Just before writing these paragraphs, I sat with Christmas tree lights glowing and a small candle shimmering. This year I’ve chosen two sources for my Advent meditation—one supplied by my church and another written by women and men from across the Christian spectrum. I’ve been both comforted and challenged in mind and heart.

I didn’t grow up with the Advent tradition either in family or church. We seemed to race from Thanksgiving to Christmas with abandon, but I’ve come to claim it as my own ritual drawing me deeper into scripture, experiences, truths that have come down through the ages. I like the order of Advent. While I can be tempted to put off a daily “quiet time” in the rush of holiday activity, if I miss the daily Advent meditation, a nameless kind of void descends. I need whatever God wants to speak to my soul.

Order has been somewhat blurred for me since last May when my husband died. First came grief in its many forms. People beautifully moved—usually without any kind or order!—in and out of my life. Then there was and is what I call the “business of death.” All the forms and files and appointments to begin surviving the practicalities of life without Bob.

But the day after Thanksgiving I began following our custom—our order—of decorating the house for the coming season. Nativity scenes are settled in their spaces, the four Advent candles are in place although I’m flaunting tradition by using battery operated ones—too many distractions to trust myself with all that fire! The tree is filled with ornaments, each telling a special story of people and places. Order reigns.

if you don’t have a special Advent order, I encourage you to find a book or online site with ideas to fill your soul during these busy days. Just before writing these paragraphs, t opened my laptop to and found this prayer that exactly fits into this day’s need for order:

“Unexpected God, your Advent alarms us. Wake us from drowsy worship, from the sleep that neglects love, and the sedative of misdirected frenzy. Awaken us now to your timing , and bend our angers into your peace. Amen”

Good words to bring order to this day.