The Saturday Times magazine yesterday was The List Issue.
A list of lists. 8 of this and 10 of that. 12 reasons why and 20 signs ...and the 63 easiest ....
Or so it was promised.
I've been thinking about lists of my own ever since. I happen to like lists. I've been accused of keeping lists of lists. (Not true ... well, almost true ...) Lists are accurate and easy and keep things tidy.
Like my list of this week's menus for the clergy coming on the Advent retreat for a few days tomorrow. I don't have to worry what to cook: it's already decided and the correct food ordered (from a list of course)
Or the list of who is getting what for Christmas. I could look back at last year or the year before or ten years ago or more - and therefore not give someone the same thing again. Unless it was meant.
But the list I really feel like making right now is the list of what I like about Advent.
When I was being interviewed by the grandees of Lincoln Diocese to see if they would recommend me for training for ordination with the Church of England, one of the questions was "What is your favourite season of the Church calendar?" Coming from a very 'low' background there was very little if any emphasis on seasons or colours or festivals or calendars within the church year. (I've learned a lot since those days!) But it sprang into my mind (God-nudged?) that I love Advent. And always have. So I was able to be honest in my reply - although I did not honestly say it was the only season I could probably name right at that moment....
So here is my list: 5 things I like about Advent
- a sense of expectation. The watching and the waiting in hope. Anticipation and tingling with excitement.
- purple. It's one of my favourite colours and always has been.
- candles and woodsmoke and advent calendars. Not necessarily advent-y but they go with this time of year.
- the music and the words. Advent carols (as opposed to Christmas carols) and Advent readings. All leading back to #1 - the sense of expectation and anticipation
- gingerbread. I know you can eat gingerbread any time of the year. But in our household, it's been an illustration of the "now" and the "not yet" and whenever I make it we are reminded. The aroma of its baking fills the house - the NOW. But we can't eat it until it has been wrapped and allowed to mature for a whole week. The NOT YET. And that's what Advent is all about. Jesus has come - the NOW; and He will come again in great power and glory - the NOT YET. We live in in between, in great hope and expectation.
So excuse me - I'm off to make some gingerbread.
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If you'd like to have a few days of R&R - breakfast in bed, peace, no hurry, time to read or pray or just BE, relaxing by a log fire or taking a brisk country walk and then enjoying afternoon tea (sometimes with gingerbread!) why not come and stay at The Vine? Bookings for 2015 now open. Come alone - or come for a weekend and bring your small group!