December 1: Advent Calendar
Transformation is drawing near
Welcome to the Cottage Advent Calendar
Every day from December 1 - 24, you’ll get an email (to “open” like a window on an old-fashioned Advent calendar). Each post will be something I’ve written on a seasonal theme.
The reflections are from articles, opinion pieces, essays, and books - some will be short, some longer. I hadn’t read many of these essays for years and even forgotten that I’d written some of them! It was a wonderful journey rediscovering all the words I’ve put in the world about Advent and Christmas, Mary and Jesus, the Incarnation, holiday rituals, gifts and gratitude, and the prophetic in-breaking of God’s kingdom. It is a genuine pleasure to share this collection with you. I hope each post will surprise you and shine light on your path.
May this December be a blessed for you and yours, full of consolation, wonder, and expectation of awe. Fear not. Hope, joy, and peace are at hand.
What words better describe our world than those of Luke? "People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world." These are not words of some far-off moment in time. They are words of NOW: Our cities and churches are full of people who are afraid — afraid of loss of their jobs, of income, of health care, of decency, of safety, of change, of pluralism, of ... of ... of ... The list of fears is nearly endless. Yet — be honest — has there ever really been a time in human history when we've not been filled with such fears? Luke's words are also the words of all of yesterdays. We may imagine that the past was better, safer, cleaner, or more stable, but that is not the case. We are a fragile lot, we humans, and our history is roiled with fear — and the stupid things that we humans do when we are afraid. And sadly, enough, they are probably the words of many of humanity's tomorrows. Apocalyptic theology does not augur escape; rather, it provides a profoundly realistic view of history — a view that should plunge us more deeply into the shalom of God-in-the-world.
Jesus says, "When you see these things, do not cower in fear, for your transformation is drawing near." Advent teaches us that in the darkest places of human oppression, the pain of hunger, and political distress that God's reign is among us. Do not be caught off-guard by the fear-filled tides of history, Jesus warned. "But be mindful, praying for strength, that you may escape the fears that roil the earth, and may stand with God" (Luke 21:36).
breaking through the static
to speak to our hearts:
disarm our love of control
and shake the silent heavens
to reveal your dawning glory,
judging all in the light of love.
— Steven Shakespeare
A Season of Gifts
The Cottage ADVENT CALENDAR is free and open to all. If you feel called to financially contribute to this work, there are two special ways to support The Cottage this December.
1. Give a gift subscription of The Cottage to a friend! An entire year of encouragement, thoughtful essays on faith and culture, seasonal specials, monthly Zoom meeting access, and the Secret Garden private podcast.
As a token of my appreciation, you will receive a free copy of Grateful when you give someone a YEAR gift subscription. After you subscribe, we’ll send you an email requesting the address where we can send your gift.
Offer good while supplies last (but I have plenty!). To activate this gift offer, click the “gift subscription” button below:
2. Sign yourself up for a membership or upgrade from free to a paid subscription to support my writing and the Cottage community. There are different levels of support — either monthly ($5 per month for as many months as you like) or yearly ($50). There is also a special level for cultivating members.
As a way to “pay it forward,” I will be giving 25% of ALL December receipts to the community outreach of Rising Hope Church, a wonderful mission-focused congregation that works for and among immigrants, low income families, the food insecure, and those without shelter in my neighborhood.
To support the Cottage with a financial gift, click the “support” button below:
Financial support is a way of enabling me to do my best writing and offer events and conversations at the Cottage. If you can’t afford a subscription and want to be part of the community, just respond to this email and let me know.
Your presence is the greatest gift of all.
This Advent moon shines cold and clear,
These Advent nights are long;
Our lamps have burned year after year,
And still their flame is strong.
"Watchman, what of the night?" we cry,
Heart-sick with hope deferred:
"No speaking signs are in the sky,"
Is still the watchman's word.
We weep because the night is long,
We laugh, for day shall rise,
We sing a slow contented song
And knock at Paradise.
Weeping we hold Him fast Who wept
For us, — we hold Him fast;
And will not let Him go except
He bless us first or last.
Weeping we hold Him fast to-night;
We will not let Him go
Till daybreak smite our wearied sight,
And summer smite the snow:
Then figs shall bud, and dove with dove
Shall coo the livelong day;
Then He shall say, "Arise, My love,
My fair one, come away."
— Christina Rossetti