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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Simplify & Breathe Advent
It's the season of waiting...and rushing. It's the season of opening ourselves...but alot of times we just want to shut down, shut the door, throw our Christmas to-do lists on the winds of December. What does it mean to slow down and savor? What does it mean to serve without becoming enslaved to duties and perceived obligations? How do we get in touch with the poor in our communities, the world -- or even our families -- in healthy, healing ways? What has worked for you? How have you succeeded (even a little bit) in making this season about the Coming of God into the world, in the form of a flesh and blood baby?"
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posted by Jemila Kwon at 8:24 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 12/07/2006 09:05:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    How do we get in touch with the poor in our communities, the world -- or even our families -- in healthy, healing ways? What has worked for you?

    well, I'm not too for sure yet how this will actually work... but our church is throwing a Christmas party for the community this year. And while any and everyone are invited, we are especially handing out invites to people who might not get a special christmas dinner. So we passed out invites at the local food pantry, the Senior center, and the community building for the mentally handicapped. I honestly have no idea how it will go (or how I'm suppossed to cook a christmas dinner for an undetermined number of people...).

  • At 12/07/2006 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    What a fantastic (though not totally original ;) idea! Let me know how it goes! How great that your church is actually DOING that!

  • At 12/07/2006 12:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    These days, I feel like from Thanksgiving through New Year's I'd prefer to hole up in a small village without electricity. Advent is a nice concept, but virtually impossible to pull off if you live in the contiguous 48 in the US of A.

  • At 12/07/2006 01:59:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Well, I have to admit, it's not too original either ;)but I have tried to be more receptive to God, and spend a little time early in the morning focusing on Advent. It is busy, and always is, but this week I have gotten up earlier than usual, and made time to think, pray, and read. Honestly, this is the first year I am really learning about Advent. I have heard about it all my life at church, but I guess I never really understood it. Our church is posting daily readings on our website, and we have brought prayer beads into our prayer time. It's different and new to me, but it has become very meaningful.

    I have been more sensitive to my surroundings (I tried to help a "blind" homeless man last week, though, I think I was being taken advantage of.) I have been donating and helping where I can, and trying to involve my children where I can.

    Some of my familial relationships have grown this year (others not so great). I am trying to focus on Joy and the positive, and nuture the love and grace within myself. I am also trying to slow down some and savor moments.

    I wish I had more connection with my community than I have had, but we are working as a church communtity to make that priority.

  • At 12/07/2006 05:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Good thoughts, Michele L. I too am trying to spend a little time centering on God in the morning. It's been a while since I practiced spiritual disciplines regularly, since I don't really have a community of friends to share the journey with in my local area. But I am trying to begin.

    I wish I didn't feel like I HAD to get presents for a long list of people...would much rather spend the energy on random acts of unexpected kindness. I did tone it down a little this year, but it still has ended up stressing me out, I'm sad to say. I don't do well with family obligations in general -- so much baggage there. Would be perfectly happy just doing presents with my hubby and kids.

  • At 12/07/2006 08:26:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I know the feeling Medium Guy. I tried a couple of years ago to move gift giving to "just the kids". Not everyone was on the same page. I personally would be fine with that, but the rest of our family isn't. Unfortunately, even when I buy inexpensive, I spend a fortune. We were simple with our kids this year, but we have a ton of family! (not complaining...I am grateful) Something I forgot to mention, last year our church didn't have a Christmas Day service. They asked us to "be the church". Instead of going to a service, they encouraged us to serve some way. Example: deliver food to a hospital or firehouse as a Thank you to those that serve on the holidays. I had wanted to do it, but didn't. I wasn't in the same place I am this year spiritually. Now I understand that so much more, and hope to do something like that around Christmas.

  • At 12/08/2006 07:22:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele L, I like the idea of bringing food to those serving on Christmas.

    On my mom's side of the family, we have a "grab bag" thing going this year -- one gift per person, under $30. But people still give gifts to the people they feel esp. close to on the sly. On my husband's side they are so big into Christmas -- Dad grew up deprived, so likes to go all out. Dad doesn't even like me for his son because I'm not Mrs. 1950s superhousewife, like his second wife is, so it's really an opportunity for me to both find a balance between their priorities and mine and also to practice loving my enemies, knowing I may get nowhere with them. I still have alot of maturing to do on the "give without expecting to receive" concept when it comes to people I feel I *have* to be nice to or give to -- so much easier to do something nice for a random person you'll never see again!

  • At 12/08/2006 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I can relate. The first oh...12-13 years I was with my husband (it's been 15) I didn't get along well with many of his family members, especially my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was tough to do holidays with them, because I definately could be elsewhere. The weird thing is, in a time where I am trying to love and be non-judgemental, those I used to love easily, have become the hard ones for me. Now that I have taken on a more "emerging" kind of thinking, the family I used to get along wonderfully with, I now feel tension and judgement. THE ongoing fun of life!

  • At 12/10/2006 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele L, that is really interesting...sometimes easy love turns out to be somewhat conditional and hard love is actually truer. What has helped you become more genuinely loving toward those who at different turns have been a challenge to embrace?

  • At 12/11/2006 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I have spent a lot of time thinking about God's "kingdom". I guess when I thought about it being more of an after death experience, and my following of Christ more "moralistic" or rule based, it was easier to be self-rightous and "less loving" to others "outside" of the "group"(not to mention taking the pressure off of focusing on my own crap). I now see "God's kingdom" differently. I feel a sense of responsibility now to help bring it to the present. I realized how important Love is in reflecting Christ. I also realized how much "not loving" and be judgemental had turned many people I knew away from Christ.
    Something else that has happened, is as my thoughts and ideas have changed, I have had a taste of what it is like to "be outside", not as bad as many others, but enough to realize, I don't want to be that way anymore.
    I have ended up on the receiving end of nasty comments, fights, looks, and gossip, just because my thinking doesn't line up perfectly with others where it used to. That has been an eye opener. When I was "in" it was fine, but change some of the thinking, and the world flips. So...the little I have experienced (uncomfortable as it has been) I have really tried to be conscious of my judgements and responses to those around me. Even when I struggle to love or accept, I remind myself that God loves that person, and I should too.

  • At 12/11/2006 07:03:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Really helpful thoughts, Michele L, thank you.

  • At 12/18/2006 09:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I'm baaaaack...I was scared away for a while, although I'm not sure if it was you all that scared me, or the things you forced me to think about.

    Good thread.


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