Advent is a season set aside for preparation… that we might be ready for Christmas.
I hope some will make a commitment to be in worship for each of the 4 Sundays before Christmas.
Church offers a host of other options for “keeping Christmas” — from building the Creche and Greening the Sanctuary at the opening of the season all the way to joining us for Epiphany Sunday on Jan. 4.
But your preparations, your dedications don’t need to be limited to when you are at church.
This week’s E-pistle offers daily opportunities, like a live-action, real time Advent calendar. Everyday — right in the midst of your life — undertakings. Not too onerous. Reminders that something else, bigger, is also going on.
Each one builds off one of the daily lectionary readings. Read the Bible passage, then try the prompt.
Friday, November 28 Zechariah 14:1-11 Do something for yourself that brings you “in the light, and makes you feel warm or secure” …a cup of hot cider or spiced mulled wine while wrapped up in a warm blanket at the end of the day reflecting on all that has happened might do the trick!
Saturday, Nov 29 Luke 19:41-48 On one side of a sheet of paper, jot quickly a list of the challenges facing Philly; on the other side, list possibilities that would increase our city’s peace. Which is longer? Post the possibilities somewhere visible, so you can keep an eye out for them.
Sunday, Nov. 30 Matthew 25:1-13 Have dinner — even if it’s just leftovers or takeout — by candlelight to remember how we are to keep our lights burning for Christ.
Tuesday, Dec. 2 1 Thessalonians 1-12 Surprise someone (and maybe yourself too) with your gentleness.
Wednesday, Dec. 3 Isaiah 2:1-11 Plant a seed in a pot on the window sill today. Even the eye of a potato you’ve had around too long will work. It’s not springtime yet. But by Christmas, you just might have a seedling. And if you bury some enmity with that seed, by Christmas, you just might know more peace.
Thursday, Dec. 4 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 Ask someone you admire to tell you about why they are the way they are… what they believe most deeply. At the end of the day, remember them in your prayers with thanksgiving.
Friday, Dec. 5 Luke 20:41-21:4 On Sunday, we’re making our 2015 Stewardship Commitments in worship. Take time and consider — really — what would it mean “out of our poverty, to offer God all that we have.”
Sunday, Dec. 7 Psalm 115 Give someone a back rub, or at least a good hug (go ahead, you’ve got to get through the Passing of the Peace anyway!)
Monday Dec. 8 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Build someone up. Surely, you can say something encouraging. Or send an affirming e-note.
Tuesday, Dec. 9 Luke 21:29-38 Eat something made with figs. A fig newton is an obvious, easy option. Stretch and see what you can find. You could end up with something as delicious as Crostini with Figs, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese or Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Fresh Figs!
Wednesday, Dec. 10 John 7:53-8:11 When you catch yourself noticing someone else’s wrongdoing, instead, bring to mind something you have not done as well as you should.
Thursday, Dec. 11 Psalm 37:1-18 At noon today, take 2 minutes and “wait for the Lord:” try and be still, release any anger, let go of any grudges, stop carrying past hurts and the worry that accompanies them… at least for these 2 minutes.
Friday, Dec. 12 Luke 22: 14-30: Include communion with dinner (that’s how it was the first time!). It doesn’t matter if you get all the words exactly right. As long as you break the bread and share the cup, remembering the One who was shared and broken for us, it will bring you closer to loving God, neighbor and yourself.
Saturday, Dec. 13 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18 Explore wasted, productive and sabbath time. When you could be idle, decide instead to get some work done that’s been too long put off. But also, set aside some deliberate down time, where rest is an end in itself. (All this might involve staying away from the t.v. and the computer.)
Sunday, Dec. 14 John 3:22-30 Take a bath today, especially if you usually shower. You might even add bubbles.
Monday, Dec. 15 Luke 22:39-53 No church today, but you could pray anyway! Make time to pray (even if you have to stay awake a few minutes longer)… pray especially for someone who is being persecuted.
Tuesday, Dec. 16 Isaiah 9:1-7 Stand in “a great light.” If it’s sunny, even if it’s cold, go outside and face into the brightness of the sun, even for just a moment or two. If it’s cloudy, we have modern alternatives…
Wednesday, Dec. 17 Mark 1:1-18 Straighten out one thing (or relationship) that is mixed up, messy or otherwise out of whack.
Thursday, Dec. 18 Isaiah 9:18-10:4 Offer help to someone who is all alone in the world, a widow or an orphan (literally or figuratively).
Friday, Dec. 19 Matthew 11:2-15 Keep your eye out for people you come across who surprise you, especially for those whose goodness you did not expect or have been hoping for.
Saturday, Dec. 20 Jude 1:17-25 Our world and our own lives are full of divisions. What could you do to lessen even just one?
Sunday, Dec. 21 Ephesians 6:10-20 Too often we are more aware our weaknesses than our strengths. Identify where you are strong and powerful, capable and competent and lead with those resources — to do something that only you can do.
Monday, Dec. 22 Revelation 20:1-10 Every time you use a key today, ask yourself, what other doors could I be opening?
Tuesday, Dec. 23 Luke 1:5-25 Go, visit, hold, treasure a baby! (It should be easy since Old First is practically a baby factory these days.)
Wednesday, Dec. 24 Isaiah 35:1-10 Find a way to lift someone who is weak, to reassure someone who is afraid; offer sight to someone who is not seeing, and good sounds to some who is having trouble hearing… after all, it’s almost Christmas!
Happy Thanksgiving and see you in church,