And just like that...here we are....
It is Sunday afternoon and I am sitting on the couch, watching a youtube video of a dog sleeping in front of a fire. The dog looks pretty darn content in their massive bed that features a prominent LL Bean logo, so I can only assume it is an advertisement for dog beds, and LL Bean in general. Thanks algorithm! We got a puppy the day before Thanksgiving Sunday (which is the Sunday before Thanksgiving if you are in church) and I have been looking up vids to help her get settled. The dog on the video is some kind of labrador retriever. The puppy is half-lab. Maybe she will take some lying down lessons...
Of course it isn't Thanksgiving anymore. Advent started this very day! I have to say that it took me a bit by surprise this year. We had that extra Sunday--November 26--which our church went ahead and cancelled. However, I didn't rest exactly. There was that puppy,...and work...and the usual drama of life that left me almost completely unaware of the looming crisis of December holidays.
What snapped me out of it was an invitation to a party on December 1. This important date is, of course, the beginning of secular Advent. We mark the first of December by opening the first door on our calendars to get our daily chocolate or scotch, or whatever the person who gives us the calendars chose this year. Anyway, a clergy friend held a party on December 1 to kick things off and I had to bring something. This meant that--between dog walks--I was forced to turn on the Christmas music and make my first fruitcake of the season. This bake included the very last of the cranberry compote from Thanksgiving dinner. The loaf I saved and "tested" for the party was pretty OK. I hope people liked the other one.
I don't have much to say about the holiday today. However, I wanted to check in. Advent is one of my favorite times of year and I try to give it the respect it deserves by not lurching directly to Christmas. It is ironic, but being a church person means less Christmas, not more. I like it that way. It keeps everything in its time.
That said I have some Advent "gifts" for you. Don't get excited! They are all virtual. Also, it includes the "Yule Dog" which I didn't make and don't really endorse in any meaningful sense.
So here is the link to my "fruitcake" recipe. I use it every year and give them away as much as possible. Then I stop when I feel like it. That moment usually arrives before Epiphany. Also, below you will find my "Advent prayer" from this morning. It is really kind of a meditation, but whatever. We had our annual sanctuary lighting today--which involves lots of readings and open flame--then we had communion. The meditation here closed communion, which was fine.
So the video of the dog by the fire continues. While I was writing this, the bottom half of a person came in with a classy LL Bean log-carrier, stoked the fire, and returned to pet the dog and drop off their snowy boots. The boots, of course, are those super-ugly-and-uncomfortable "Bean Boots" that were the bane of my childhood. I bet the dog is named after the Chesapeake Bay. I remember lots of "Chessies" growing up. This is the sort of set-up they would like. It kinda makes me wish I had a fireplace...and a scratchy wool blanket...and that it was snowing.
OMG! The "dog owner" is back wearing LL Bean slippers and stoking the fire with a bespoke fire poker! This is about as much excitement as I can handle on a Sunday afternoon in the rain.
Anyway, here is the prayer. I need to walk my dog, who is named after a mountain in New Hampshire, which is totally different from being named after a bay in Maryland...
Advent Prayer 2023
It doesn't start with a star
It doesn't start with hallelujahs
It starts with stumbling through
It starts all too frequently with loss
the rocky road to nothing
Then we begin
with a moment of desperation
on our knees
With crying out and wondering if
if our cries will be heard at all
And then it starts
with the hands that lift us up
brush us off
feed us, even, and walk us into the day
We may be too tired to notice
these hands but
they are there
Each caring hand
the hand of God and
the human hands
of human hope
We shudder to turn these hands to violence
We resist using them
for selfish ends
Advent does not begin with a star
or an angel
or a hymn
but begins with us
in communion with humanity
Advent begins as stillness
In the chaos and
then the stillness grows
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.