By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
& Selah Companion
As a kid I looked forward to receiving an Advent calendar from my parents each Christmas. It helped mark the days until Christmas, a very exciting time for me as a child. There are many kinds of Advent calendars but they typically have “doors” for each day leading up to Christmas. Each day you open a door to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus), or a small gift, such as a toy or candy. Or, perhaps a Bible verse or Christian prayer, which can be incorporated as part of daily Advent devotions. But, as a kid, I was after the chocolate! It was nearly as torturous to wait until the next day to open another door for chocolate as it was to wait for Christmas Day.
German Lutherans used the first Advent calendar in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their use has since spread to other Christian denominations.
Traditional Advent calendars feature the manger scene, Saint Nicholas, or a winter scene, while others range in theme from sports to technology. They come in many forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each day to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. The Advent calendars of my early childhood years were homemade. Later on, different types of calendars were commercially available.
Advent calendars aren’t necessarily two-dimensional. Some European villages create Advent calendars on buildings or even “living” Advent calendars, with different windows in a building decorated for each day of Advent.
As an adult, I still look forward to beginning an Advent calendar–although these days I prefer reading my calendar rather than eating it. I lean toward devotion-based, bound books with a reading for each day–such as Jesus Calling for Christmas, and Richard Rohr’s Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent. Some I return to over and over. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas has become a perennial favorite of mine.
As a girl, I enjoyed reading my grandmothers’ copies of Christmas Ideals. If you haven’t guessed, it was the inspiration behind the design of Wondrous Light: Through Advent and Christmas published by Selah Center.
A few months ago as I searched for my grown-up Advent calendar, (I settled on The Carols of Christmas: Daily Advent Devotions on Classic Christmas Carols) I wondered, what would an Advent Blog look like?
So, I reached out to the writers from Selah’s Here & Now blog and the Selah Center books, asking them if they were up for the challenge to write enough contemplative reflections for every day of Advent. The response was tremendous. Their writings started appearing in my inbox.
My grown-up Advent calendar has become a community calendar. Starting today, “Here & Now” will publish daily a special series of reflections for Advent and Christmas. Not only did I receive enough writings through Advent, but also for Christmas Eve to New Year’s. I considered it a gift from Selah to read these reflections, and I hope you will receive them gifts as well.
I hope you will look forward to opening a “new door” each day on the Here & Now blog and find a sweet treat to savor during Advent and Christmastide. My prayer is you’ll find my grown-up Advent calendar as delicious as the chocolate ones of my childhood.
I can hardly wait until tomorrow to read Here & Now. I can smell the Christmas tree already.
A Moravian star is an illuminated decoration popular in Germany and in places in Europe and America with Moravian congregations, notably the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and the area surrounding Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The first Moravian star dates back to the 1830s at the Moravian Boys’ School in Niesky, Germany, as a geometry lesson or project. That star had 110 points based on a rhombicuboctahedron. Today’s star features 26 points.
Through Advent & Christmas
Are you longing to reconnect with the true spirit and spirituality of Christmas? Through reflections from the Revised Standard Lectionary Bible verses, creative writings, and light-filled, inspiring photography, Wondrous Light guides us through the Advent season, preparing our hearts to deeply celebrate Christ’s birth. The centerpieces of Wondrous Light are the personal reflections, poetry and art contributed by Selah community members which encourage us to contemplate God’s purpose, impact and action in our lives, during the holiday season and far beyond.
A special section highlights the ministry of National Geographic Traveler photographer and pastor Andrew E. Larsen, whose ministry promotes seeking truth and making peace between Christians and Muslims. Larsen’s extensive international travel inspires him to photograph beautiful landscapes and compelling portraits of the people he meets. Additionally, he’s produced two documentaries on peacemaking, and his photography calendar have been enormously popular over the past decade.
The book is sold on Amazon, and the proceeds help enable the Selah Center to offer workshops and retreats. If you haven’t purchased one yet, don’t miss out. It’s truly a sweet treat.
Listening into Advent
A Quiet Day to Prepare Our Hearts for the Season
November 28 @ 9:30 am – 2:30 pm PST FREE. on ZOOM
The value of intentionally approaching the season with a prayerful heart lays a foundation for encountering God in the mystery of the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ.
Rather than falling prey to the frenzied expectations of gift giving and holiday gatherings that lose the meaning of Christmas, take this day to sit before the Holy One in quietness and rest. Whether in centering prayer or journaling or any combination of spiritual practices, the time spent with God opens you up to enter into the season with a centered heart.
Starting with a community who agrees to accompany one another on this quiet day, you’ll be given some tools to use as you want. Then for four hours, you can stay on Zoom in the silent presence of others or rejoin us for the closing time. We will end our time together by sharing how we intend to move into the Advent season
Register to receive materials and a Zoom invite.
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