Hello, readers,

The view out my window today is this: fallen leaves cover the ground. Only a few tenacious ones remain on the branches. Gray clouds fill the sky. It is a quintessential November day.

December is just a week away and with this turn of the calendar page I know what lies ahead–the three-week push to Christmas vacation,  parties and celebrations to attend, cards to be mailed and shopping to be completed, and decorating to be done. My mental and physical to-do list will be top of mind most days. I fluctuate between excitement and worry as I contemplate the approaching month.  

Advent begins Sunday, December 2. Each year, I look forward to the readings and symbolism of this church season. The waiting and emphasis on preparation seems so fitting, so appropriate. This week, however, I feel the need to do some pre-Advent priming.

Already, I feel the tug of distraction–absently scrolling through my Instagram feed longer than I intend to, oohing and ahhing over the Christmas decorations and food spreads or the fashionable holiday outfits. Distracting myself with streaming tv shows instead of editing a few more paragraphs. Not being fully present to conversations and moments because my mind is onto the next item to finish. The struggle is real.

So, I need this week to prepare for Advent. Kinda ironic since that’s what Advent is all about.

I need space to clarify what is important and worth my time, my energy, and my efforts over the next four weeks. To appreciate these ordinary days when the temptation is to look ahead and wish for the ones that “matter.” To seek moments of quiet and stillness where I can listen and discern the Spirit’s promptings.

It won’t be easy. Each day will hold unexpected surprises and interruptions that could easily derail my intentions.

This past week, while hanging out in Nashville with family, I read several chapters in John’s Gospel  from The Message. I love how Eugene Peterson translates these passages. Jesus’s realness and plain spokenness about who is he and who his Father is reminds me how I often complicate the message of the Gospel. In John 6, Jesus tells the people he is the Bread of Life. They become excited and also a bit confused, thinking Jesus will give them physical bread for the rest of their lives. Like Jesus’s audience, I get hung up on one detail and miss the larger message.

Then Jesus goes on to say this: Anyone who see the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.

That’s what I desire–real life, wholeness, eternal life. Part of the beauty of the Advent season is that it prepares us to accept the Incarnation–the gift of real life, eternal life through the birth of a baby boy.

May this last week of November be filled with moments of grace, peace, and joy as we ready our hearts for Advent.

With hope.

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