I’ve loved Advent as long as I can remember. And running across this photo of me, face to face with the Nativity set let me see the gift my parents gave me as a young child.
My memories are of our family lighting the Advent wreath together every Sunday. Each child yearned to be old enough to light the candle. Once you could read, there was the Bible passage or that week’s meditation from the Advent booklet. I didn’t love accompanying the family’s Advent hymn on the piano. 😉
When The Upper Room invited me to write a book for the Advent season, I was thrilled. It called back all those memories of the Advent wreath, the candles, the little book, the awkward hymn playing and the singing.
And I am grateful for this gift.
God, open our hearts and the hearts of the world to your hope. Peel back the layers of our stubborn opinions, our fearful assumptions, and let the light of your life-giving spirit enter in. Amen.
I’m sitting here reading about the world’s latest craziness. (What is going to happen next?!?) And I’m wondering where those the nice Advent feelings are that I used to be able locate inside myself. “Maybe, this year, there will be peace.” “Oh, look, there are the signs of hope (or joy, or love).” Right now, I’m not feeling very hopeful.
Hope isn’t a simple, sweet sentiment or an unreachable goal. Hope’s a bit risky — it’s not based on and doesn’t rely on some kind of secret-handshake promise from God. Our hoping does not mean that everything will turn out the way we want it to.
Hope is, instead, a spiritual practice, appropriate any time but especially during the season of Advent. We wait and hope for the coming of Christ into the world. We hope even when it doesn’t feel like it’s going to make a difference. We hope because we are children of God, children of hope. …
When we hope, we align ourselves more closely with the God of the Universe — the eternal force of good, of hope and love and peace.
Carry these words in your heart today: I am God’s partner in hope.
For those of you looking for The Uncluttered Heart … The emails and texts are no longer available. But the content is here. Blessings on your Advent season! – Beth P.S. The book is available in print, EPub, and Kindle formats.
This online retreat is co-sponsored by The Upper Room and BeADisciple.com. A gracious group of volunteer facilitators join me in leading the retreat. These facilitators are church leaders from all over the country. Both clergy and lay, they bring their love of Advent and Christmas, as well as open, compassionate hearts. I’m looking forward to sharing the season with them and with all those who sign up for the retreat.
Here are our facilitators:
Mark Babb — Jackson MI
Ginger Bennett — Biloxi, MI
Suzanne Elliott — Chambersburg, PA
Scott Endress — Houston, TX
Michael Henderson — Cayce, SC
Carol Kleber — Wantagh, NY
Lisa McGehee — Richmond, VA
Marcia Middleton — Albany, NY
Dawna Petersen — Bloomington, IN
Ingrid Quigley — San Jose, CA
Pam Wiggins — Porter, TX
Lorenza Williams, Jr. — Philadelphia, PA
Participants will receive daily encouragement and receive support from others on the journey. The class begins on November 28, 2010, the first Sunday of Advent, and continues until Epiphany, January 6, 2011. Participants should plan to login daily at a time of day which is convenient to their own schedules. A missed day may be made up the next, but the discipline of daily study will be valuable to the journey through Advent.
You won’t need a book — the book’s content is included in the retreat.
What if I did The Uncluttered Heart last year?
It’s up to you — the retreat may be just what you need for this year. The online retreat contains similar material you received last year, but by participating in the retreat, you’ll have the chance to be a part of a small group. If you long to be a part of a group and one is not available to you, then you may want to prayerfully consider joining the retreat.
What do I need in order to participate in the retreat?
A computer with an internet connection that you can access every day. (You’re not alone — technical assistance is available.)
What if the retreat is not for me?
No worries — the retreat may not be for everyone. I hope you will participate in The Uncluttered Heart by using the book and The Uncluttered Heart website. I’ll be posting daily content and sending text messages to remind you to connect with God throughout the days of Advent and Christmas.
Please let me know if you have other questions. I’m looking forward to spending Advent with you.
I get to work at home every so often — it’s a wonderful perk of my job. Today I spent the day writing, doing some finish-up work on the manuscript of my upcoming Advent book — The Uncluttered Heart (watch for it from Upper Room Books early this fall).
I heard the tree frogs this afternoon and the second daffodil was blooming in the front yard. I first noticed the tree frogs Saturday or Sunday night — it was about 25 degrees and just a few hardy frogs were peeping. The first daffodil was blooming on Saturday, when a cold front came through and dropped a dusting of snow on it and the rest of Nashville.
I love to write while sitting at the kitchen table. The table looks out on the back deck — the feeding birds, the tops of the trees which line the hill below our house, the occasional squirrel getting a drink from the bird bath or hopeful cat hanging out under the deck railing. I’m grateful and mindful of God’s awesome creation.