Behold, the Lord comes to save His people;
Blessed are those prepared to meet Him.
-- Gospel acclamation
I wanted to tell you a little about how we celebrate Advent, which is all about preparation.
Notice that I'm not really very prepared to tell you about it -- since Advent began on Sunday... and today is Thursday.
I'm sort of playing catch-up, as I usually do. I suppose that's fitting, since God came to save His people, and we have been sort of running to catch up ever since. He is prepared for us and came in the fullness of time, but time is running short for us and catches us mostly unawares. He is indeed ready for us. We are, alas, not so ready.
That is why this season has been given to us. It's not Christmas yet -- think about decorating for Advent, not Christmas!
I want to tell you something: If you take a peek into church, you will see that there are no Christmas decorations! Isn't that funny? Things are quite bare. If you listen closely to the readings and the words of the Liturgy you will hear a great preparation going on, and I wonder if you would want to bring this into your home as well.
We always have an Advent wreath with candles. I use a wire frame and have made a base for it out of a piece cut out of cardboard. I covered that with green ribbon and wired the wire frame to it. Then I wrap the whole thing in whatever I can scrounge up in my yard and anyone else's. This year I have ivy from a neighbor's (note to self: plant ivy), yew or something, azalea (which has a lovely dark red color) and some of that hydrangea I picked in the summer. Next year I'll try to remember to show you the bare bones of this thing.
I hang the whole thing from the chandelier. You can see how not decorated for Christmas I am with that sideboard. Hmm.
I add these anachronistic putti and the medieval Madonna and Child ornament. I sort of like them together anyway. Every day we sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, adding a verse every week, as we light the candles.
For years we ate every supper in the dining room, since there were so many of us. Now we've dwindled to four or five. I got the amazing brainstorm to make another wreath for the kitchen table! Brilliant:
Lighting the candles reminds us and our children that there is a lovely hush coming over us as we wait. The frantic jingling of bells in the world around us doesn't disturb our peace.
Papa reads the opening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. We realize that the coming of Jesus was awaited with a hope against hope by the people who walked in darkness. Can you even imagine the darkness of not knowing Jesus?