Advent: A Longing For His Appearing

Let us refocus on Jesus this Christmas season

I did not grow up celebrating Advent in the Southern Baptist church but in recent years my wife and I have begun to explore Advent as a means to refocus the Christmas season on Jesus. While we are not much into liturgy I find that Advent is a wonderful season to reflect on the Incarnation and how Jesus’ presence on earth changed everything. Every night we’ve been reading an Advent book for families that my sister-in-law gave us called Tabitha’s Travels. So far the kids are really into it.

I’m sure many of you have your own family traditions for the Advent/Christmas season – ways to simplify and redeem these “holy days” from consumer glut and to celebrate GOD’s goodness. So in light of encouraging a deeper reflection of Advent – the waiting for Messiah (both then and now), and Christmas – the Incarnation of GOD in Jesus- I want to share a few blogs, websites and other resources from around the Web that are seeking to explore more meaningful expressions of Christian celebration and reflection in this season.

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Slow Church: This is a great new blog by our online friends Chris Smith and John Pattison. They are posting daily reflections on Advent.

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GODSPACE: Tom and Christine Sine have been a huge inspiration to the Sustainable Traditions project. Christine faithfully blogs at GODSPACE and is featuring a steady stream of Advent reflections – both hers and from a wide array of friends. Christine also has put together an Advent devotional called Waiting For the Light and has a few other Advent resources.

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Advent Conspiracy: I heard about this movement a couple years ago and it continues to gain momentum. Check out the video below that summarizes what it’s all about:

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

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Buy Nothing Christmas: If you’re on the more radical side of things you will love this. From their website:

“Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites who offer a prophetic “no” to the patterns of over-consumption of middle-class North Americans. They are inviting Christians (and others) all over Canada to join a movement to de-commercialize Christmas and re-design a Christian lifestyle that is richer in meaning, smaller in impact upon the earth, and greater in giving to people less-privileged.”

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Alternatives for Simple Living (Archives): I have stumbled on this now defunct site over the years and am amazed at all the resources that can be found here kind of lying there in virtual piles gathering dust. Alternatives for Simple Living apparently still operates a website at SimpleLiving.org but their archives which deal with de-commercializing and redeeming Christmas (and other themes on Christian celebration and simple living) are apparently waiting to be re-found. From their website:

“Alternatives is a non-profit organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly. Started in 1973 as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, our focus is on encouraging celebrations that reflect conscientious ways of living. Throughout our 30-year history, we have led the movement to live more simply and faithfully. We have developed many different resources, organized an annual Christmas Campaign (“Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?”), held the Christmas Gift Contest, led numerous workshops, and reached countless people with the message of simple, responsible living.”

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The Nativity Story (2006 Movie): Like many movies there is a bit of reinterpretation on the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth but overall this is one of the most incredible portrayals of the context in which Jesus came into the world. It shows the political struggle of the Romans against the Jews, the personal pain of Mary and Joseph as they wrestle with Mary’s perceived infidelity (yes folks most of Mary’s neighbors and her own parents probably did not believe she was a vessel of divine favor), and overall helps to rip the reality of Jesus birth out of the gold-flaked Hallmark cards and back into the dusty streets of historical Israel. (If you are especially daring you might find parts of it on YouTube –  or you can rent it on Amazon apparently)

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I know I left a bazillion other resources out so you’ll have to share what you know in the comments below or on Facebook. Oh yeah – and we will be posting some interesting excerpts and reflections as well – so stay tuned.

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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