I started my Advent reading on December 1st just as I had planned. I’ve read through day four but today is day nine and I’ve decided not to think of it as being behind.
I’m just leaving room for the story to sink in.
Every year December comes and, though it carries all the things we’ve come to expect, it also brings something new. Sometimes the newness is welcome – a new relationship, a new baby, a new job, a new house or trip or experience.
Other times the newness is more difficult – a new diagnosis, a new disappointment, a new fear or uncertainty or the first Christmas without him.
And so we wait together even as we move into all the news of December, both the kind announced in the headlines of the papers and the kind that hangs like a banner over our soul.
As I mentioned before, every year I read an Advent devotional – here are a few I recommend – and it’s become a sacred part of my December. But every year, without fail, I find myself at some point during the month feeling extra frazzled, distracted, and flustered despite my best intentions.
When I get this way, it’s difficult to sit and read, to focus my eyes on the page, to still my body long enough to settle in to the story of Jesus.
That’s why, for the past month, I closed myself in this room and wrote and prayed and read about the story of Jesus in order to create something for people like me.
As you may already know, audio has become a beloved format for me this year. It’s unique because, unlike reading or watching, you can listen while you’re engaged in something else – walking, cooking, driving, or closing your eyes. That last one is my favorite.
Because when it’s hard to read, closing my eyes and listening is a way to help calm the chaos around me. So I wanted to design something that you could count on for December so that if every other solitary intention flies out the window, all you have to do is pop in your earbuds on the way to the grocery store and be reminded of the story of Jesus.
Some things we do on the regular because we have to – make dinner, feed pets, pay the bills, go to work, take a shower. On bad days they are annoying and on good days maybe even a joy but one way or another, these become a liturgy, ways we observe and practice our own lives.
Other things we do special, just every now and then – the season finale party, a girls night for your birthday, movie night with the family, or the get together with neighbors and friends.
And there are still other things we do, or at least we are learning to do, because they feel like us. It’s not because you have to, it’s not because it’s a special occasion, and if you didn’t think of it or work on it or initiate it, it wouldn’t get done at all.
That’s what The Quiet Collection for Christmas is for me. I almost didn’t do it this year because I nearly ran out of time. I had a final paper to write for school, our daughter is playing travel volleyball for the first time, and John and I have had colds for what feels like ever.
But I couldn’t shake it, this excitement about creating another audio devotional offering, this one especially for Christmas. I couldn’t ignore the pull, the challenge, and the invitation to go deeper into the lives of Zechariah, Mary, and Jesus and to let their lives sink deeper into me.
Most of all, I couldn’t ignore that writing, recording, and editing these 3-5 minute reflections, I feel the most like myself. It feels weird to say it, I don’t fully understand it, and I certainly can’t explain it, but creating this for you feels right.
In the end, I made this for you but also for me. You can hear my voice is an octave deeper than normal because of my cold, I had to do extra editing to cut out the coughing, and more than once I had to stop recording to cry like a baby over the true good news of Jesus.
But now it’s finished and available and ready for you to listen if you’d like. The Quiet Collection for Christmas is open until Tuesday December 12, which will be the last day to sign up to receive it.
Whether or not you sign up to receive this collection, I hope more than anything that you’ll pay attention to the things that feel like you. If there is a pull, a challenge, or an invitation happening in you today, maybe this is the season to start to look it in the face and see what it has to say to you.
Dare to listen in the quiet for what makes you come alive. Rather than trying to fill the silence, let the silence fill you for a change.
I’m always here for it, to help you create space for your soul to breathe so that you can discern your next right thing in love. No matter what you’re carrying today, I hope you aren’t afraid to sift through your desire and your gifting and uncover the shape of your own soul.