The 12/02/13 Joy Jar

1 Dec

Advent began yesterday on Sunday. Share Faith has a great explanation in What is Advent?

Prior to the Nativity Celebration of Christmas Day, Advent refers to the holy season of the Christian church which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It begins on the Fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on the 25th of December. As the commencement of the Christian year, the Advent Season holds a special place in the Christian tradition.
The History of Advent
The word “advent” comes from the Latin term for “coming,” and refers to the first and second Comings of Jesus Christ, in the senses of Savior and Judge, respectively. The first authoritative mention of Advent appears in the Synod of Lerida (AD 524), and the season has been recognized since as the beginning of the western ecclesiastical (church) year. The celebration originally began as a period of fasting, similar to Lent. Although the practice of abstention was later relaxed, Advent retains the spirit of atonement and penitence.
Advent Wreaths and Calendars
In western cultures, the four Sundays of Advent are often celebrated with Advent wreaths decorated with four candles. Made from evergreens, the circular wreaths symbolize eternal life and the endless nature of God’s love. Three of the candles are purple or blue while the fourth is typically rose-colored or pink.
One candle is lit each Sunday of the season. The rose-colored candle is lit on the third Sunday, which is considered to be a more festive day than the others. On Christmas Day, a fifth candle (known as the “Christ Candle” and often white in color) is lit in the center of the wreath, or may replace it altogether.
Advent calendars are also popular during the season. About 25 small compartments are created, often through the use of multiple sheets of cardboard or through sewn pockets. These are filled with seasonal messages, religious pictures, small chocolates, stories, or toys, depending upon the particular calendar.
Advent Traditions and Customs around the World
There are many ways Advent is celebrated. In English history, poor women would carry “Advent images” — two dolls dressed as Christ and the Virgin Mary. Upon showing these images to passersby, the women would be gifted with small amounts of money or trinkets. Failing to donate was considered bad luck.
In Normandy, children under 12 were sent through farmers’ fields with torches, setting fire to straw to drive off vermin. Italy supported the tradition of bagpipe players entering into Rome during the last days of the season. They played music before shrines of the Blessed Virgin, just as shepherds played pipes at the manger to honor the Messiah’s coming.
The Season of Advent remains one of the most important times of the Christian year. It celebrates the blessing of the birth of Christ, and reminds the faithful of his eventual return.
“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes (German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945) http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/advent_season.html

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the Advent Season.

Healthy Spirituality has some great insights about Advent:

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time.”
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac

“The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”
Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas

“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.”
John Bell, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, compiled by Dorothy M. Stewart

“Christmas is fast approaching. And now that Christ has aroused our seasonal expectations, he’ll soon fulfill them all!”
St. Augustine, Sermon 51

“God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, Echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”
Walter Wangerin, Jr., from “The Signs of the Times,” in The Manger Is Empty

“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”
William Gurnall

“Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when
you’re running yourself.”
Bill McKibben

“This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”
Mark Zimmermann in Our Advent Journey

“One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.”
Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker

“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.”
Handel Brown

http://www.healthyspirituality.org/2009/12/advent-15-inspirational-quotes-about.html

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