Advent Blues…

The pictures above are of our current ‘kitchen,’ ‘pantry,’ dining room,’ sitting/T.V. room and office space for my husband, only the latter two purposes the ones for which the space is designed. As you’ll note, it’s pretty much all in one room, with the actual cooking taking place in the adjacent bathroom. To tell you the truth, it’s a little bit grim, especially as we move further into the holiday season.

Seen below are photos of the spaces that used to be our living room, kitchen and family room, now shorn of furniture and carpeting, awaiting the sledge hammers of the demolition crew which will begin their thunderous and dusty work on Monday morning.

The corner by the fireplace in the living room is where our Christmas tree would be located, in a normal year. The piano, which is now safely out of harm’s way in the entry hall, of all places, would be down the steps, used frequently for carol-playing and chord-banging by our grandkids. The wooden chandelier in the kitchen would be festooned with greenery and velvet, the family room would look cheery with red and green distributed widely.

This year, that Christmas spirit is tough to find! Two poinsettias on the front porch and a tree in a pot, ordered from Jackson & Perkins, but not yet here – that about covers it for 2006.

Which is why I was glad to be a worker bee for a little while this morning while some decorating was happening at our church. (Not that I did any actual decorating, of course, but I’m handy with a broom. )

Did you know that blue (or purple) is the color for this season of the year? The liturgical color, that is. Our wreath at church has four fat blue candles with a larger white Christ candle in the center. The beautiful sanctuary Bible, a gift from a parish family, is open to an illustration with rich shades of blue and red. The courtyard, the pergola/coffee area and the sanctuary (pictured below, courtesy of Don Johnson’s MCC blog) all look stunning. The sanctuary, with fresh greens of all kinds hanging from every sconce and decorating every flat surface, looks particularly festive. There are white lights on the 3 trees (just like the three bears, we have one large, one medium, one small) and lovely clear glass icicles hang from every branch. The tallest tree has a softly colored gold star atop and here and there, sheer gold ribbons shimmer. It looks truly lovely, and as we move into the last two weeks of Advent, a few more decorative items will be added to the space, helping us to picture what it means to wait. For waiting is our theme for this Advent season. Waiting for God to visit our world, to visit us, to help us, to save us from ourselves.

Although the new film, The Nativity, has a bit more Francis of Assisi and Hallmark going for it than actual gospel narrative, it does get some things really right. Like the tyranny of the Roman government, the paranoid lunacy of Herod and his son and the relative squalor into which the Savior was born. The clothes (and the feet) of these people got dirty and stayed dirty. The implements for daily living and comfort were basic and minimal. Travel was arduous and exhausting. Living spaces were crowded for most people, with privacy an unheard of luxury. Makes our back room look positively opulent, even with its piles of stuff.

Stuff we’ve got a lot of, just not much space to spread it out in these days. We’re giving away lots of furniture and we’ve weeded out many unused items, with more of that weeding still to come, I’m sure. And yet, we have so much. Jesus and his parents had so little. How remarkable that God would choose to come to us in such a way. Born to a captive people in a forgotten hill town, sent a-wandering to preserve his young life, given parents who were faithful but genuinely puzzled about all that happened to them. It still amazes me, even when I’m feeling those ‘Advent blues,’ I still give thanks for the season and for our remarkable Savior, whose coming remains a mystery and a wonder.

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