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🕯️Advent for the Rest of Us
A Simple & Free Advent Guide to Light the Way
We’re now in the liturgical season of Advent, a cosmic invitation to sit in anticipation — a time of now-and-not-yet in the Church calendar where we wait for the birth of Jesus — of love embodied, of light breaking through.
I hope this little care package brings a little light to your inbox, which, if it’s anything like mine, is being bombarded with sale emails from each and every company you’ve ever bought something from. (Woosh.)
Perhaps you are part of a church that feels like home. Or maybe, for whatever reason, church has not felt like a warm or welcoming place for you in this season. The beauty of Advent is that it’s for all of us.
Clouds of Night
This morning, I held my daughter Eliza on my hip and stood in a sanctuary singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. As I reflect on what feels like a never-ending cycle of heartbreaking headlines, the hymn just hit different:
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
As we sang, a stream of light pored through the stained glass, making a swirl of colors illuminating the cross. The song put words to the groans of my own heart. When I share my writing, it’s my hope that sometimes you’ll find your own heartbeats nestled into what I’ve written.
The beauty of the body of Christ is that your words can become mine, and my words can become yours, and somehow we’re muddling through as we grasp for glimmers of light, together.
It doesn’t make any sense, really. Yet now we find ourselves squarely in, as Madeleine L’Engle says, “the irrational season.”
The Irrational Season
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d been no room for the child.
— Madeleine L’Engle
I’d love to tell you this is enough for me. That doubt never clouds the light surrounding me, that I never find myself overwhelmed by the darkness or twisted in buying my way toward an Instagram-perfect holiday season.
During Advent, we marvel at a love so unreasonable, so unfathomable that we return year after year, lighting candles and wondering about a Light so full of glory and love-everlasting that no darkness could ever extinguish it.
Advent, an irrational season.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1: 3-5)
Wonder & Joy
It’s at this point in this letter that I quite desperately want to go to the manuscript I just turned into my publisher and copy & paste all that I’ve written about Advent in those pages, but for now I guess I’ll just leave you with this: “To Light Their Way: Finding Simple Wonder & Joy in Advent.”
As the name suggests, it’s a simple offering to light your way toward Christmas.
Each week includes:
snippets of more comprehensive prayers from To Light Their Way
a simple conversation/journal prompt
one tangible practice
a breath prayer from a Psalm
This weekly resource could be used on your own, with a friend or spouse, or with your family. My kids are between the ages of 6 - 12 and together, we set aside one evening a week (Sunday in our home) to read through it together. Then, we light an Advent candle (we roll our own beeswax candles, which takes about five minutes and is much easier than you’d think!) It makes our pizza nights and Taco Tuesdays feel quite fancy, and helps us reset and reconnect.
It’s a free downloadable PDF — pull it up on your phone or tablet at dinner or print it so you have it on hand. I just ask that you make sure you’re subscribed to this newsletter. (And hey, passing this newsletter to a friend or purchasing a copy or 100 of To Light Their Way is lovely, too.)
Every marketing website says I should ask you to pay for this. While I love supporting authors and believe writers should be paid for their work, this a simple resource that I want to be free forever. I hope it serves you.
Each week fits on one page and should hopefully add peace to your season — not add stress to your to-do list.
A Symphony of Words
Looking to dive deeper into your reading during the Advent season? You’ve probably noticed wealth of Advent resources are available, to the point that it can feel overwhelming.
The wonderful folks at The Bible Binge put together an Advent round-up that features many of my favorites (and some that are new to me). This morning at church, we picked up an Advent family packet from Illustrated Ministries. And this morning, we received an unexpected package from Lexham Press with a copy of The King of Christmas: All God’s Children Search for Jesus. (The illustrations are beautiful.) I’m also looking forward to Kate Bowler’s free advent resource and last year I learned so much from Cole Arthur Riley’s advent reflections.)
Every Christmas season, I break out two large baskets full of Advent, Christmas, and winter books. If there’s any interest, I could put together a list of what we’ve collected through the years. (Most of ours came pre-loved from library sales and thrift shops.)
Liturgies for Parents Podcast
ICYMI, every Monday, a new episode of the Liturgies for Parents podcast is ready for you.
The short, meditative episodes are around 10 minutes long. I hope it’s a place for you to breathe and reset in the chaos of life. Together, we explore short prayers, faithful reflections, and some scripture to guide your journey of raising kids in a complicated world. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss an episode.
A Prayer for Entering Advent
O come, Emmanuel.
We enter this time of Advent
With holy anticipation.
We enter this sacred season
With bated breath.
O come, Emmanuel.
We’re prone to get tangled
In sparkling lights and glittering tinsel,
Lost in to-do lists,
Swallowed in the seas
Of ribbons and restless hearts and weary souls.
(a short excerpt from “A Prayer for Advent” in To Light Their Way)
In this season of holy anticipation, may the God of all things illuminate the darkness within and around you. May the love of Christ ignite in you the awe of a child looking into a manger scene as you wait on the promise of the coming infant King in a humble stable.
May the God of justice and truth, hope and mercy help you prepare the way in your hearts and in your home, in your family and in your children. In the overwhelm, may you get quiet and humble yourself so you can make space in your soul for the Newborn who will illuminate the darkness and change everything.
Until Next Time
Our family has also experienced some beautiful changes that I will be able to share more about soon, so stay tuned! I’m itching to type out yet another story of grace and God’s beautiful, unexpected timing.
The same talented designer who worked on To Light Their Way sent me four absolutely stunning cover ideas for my new book (set to release fall 2023). I’m so grateful to get to be part of a team that is spending so much intention and thought making a beautiful book (hopefully inside & out!) that we hope will serve you for years to come.
What are you letting go during this irrational season? What are you adding in?
May all your life — your fantastic, dirty, messy, holy life, be a prayer,