Lord, have mercy.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

-It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

———–

I first heard of Advent a couple years ago.

Technically we had an Advent calendar growing up, but it was really a Countdown to Christmas calendar.

And it’s days like that this that I wish we hadn’t allowed the season to be drowned out by Santa and his merry elves.

Because Advent is not the season of joyful exultation.

Advent is the season of anticipation.

It is everything that leads up to the manger. It is the broken world crying out: for answers, for healing, for salvation, for the presence of God.

It is the desperate waiting for a light to break through the darkness.

I don’t know why this part of the Christian calendar has been brushed aside.

Because we need Advent.

On days like this, we can’t escape humanity’s brokenness. We find ourselves face to face with embodied evil, and he’s human just like the rest of us.

And in the deep black of that night, we don’t need a cheerful snowman.

We need hope.

We need the promise of a savior who is making the world right, not just decked halls and a pile of presents and another twinkle lit marketing campaign.

———-

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

-O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

———-

This is the reality of the world we have created.

Where companies are more concerned with increasing the black numbers in their ledgers than with doing right by their employees.

And we’re all scrambling, panicked and desperate, because there’s so much to do. We’re trying to manufacture joy and buy our way into the Christmas spirit. And we’re failing. So we just keep trying harder.

And every morning I wake up to 25 new emails full of sales and deals and buy here! and buy now!

And if we bought those plates, the beautiful ones with the matching serving bowl, maybe there would be people to fill in the seats around the table.

And it’s such a lie, but it’s packaged by the very best salesmen. And we’re buying.

And people that you share a church with, that you worship next to, take your money and promise to do a job, promise to come through for you. And they just don’t. And the money’s gone.

And in Washington, men and women argue behind closed doors, taking pride in the fact that they have no common ground.

And another government is threatening chemical warfare against their own people, clinging to their waning authority. Everyone just clawing and grasping for any bit of power.

And then, my God, a man carries a gun into an elementary school. And opens fire on children. And there was no other goal, just the murder of the helpless.

And instead of unwrapping the gifts sitting under their trees, instead of snuggling them by the fire, instead of cookies for Santa, those parents will be burying their babies this ChristmasAnd there is no sense in that.

———-

And I want to run.

I posted that I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. And people suggested “to the moon” and “there might be a colony on Mars”.

But that’s not far enough. I don’t want another geographical location.

I’m longing for another place. I’m longing for a different existence.

I get in the car and I turn on the songs that ring deep in my soul, singing praise to a God that is in this with us, Emmanuel.

“You’re telling me that there’s no hope; I’m telling you, you’re wrong.”

You’re wrong. You’re wrong. I’m fighting for hope inside my own head. Clinging to a good God. Clinging to the story of the young woman and the shepherds and the angels and the baby in the manger-the one who promised peace.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.”

I’m singing it like a desperate plea.

Lord have mercy.

———-

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow,

Look now! for glad and golden hours

come swiftly on the wing.

O rest beside the weary road,

And hear the angels sing!

-It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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*Christmas is supposed to begin on the 25th of December, and then last for 12 days. (Hence, the song that never made one bit of sense to me).

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It’s the final countdown.

That high-pitched whine you’re hearing is the sound of my anxiety.

.

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My mom texted me today because our cake baker quit.

After several conversations and emails about this cake.

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I mean, she had my email address. Could’ve sent a 30 second message:

“Hey! So won’t be doing your cake after all. I quit. Screw those guys. I realize this is inconvenient for you, but thems the facts. Have a nice wedding!”

.

I lied. Typing that took less than 30 seconds.

But, no.

.

So thanks for that, chica.

Thankfully, cake is bottom tier of wedding things that are important to me, but still. I want to have some. That doesn’t look like a 4 year old made it.

Actually, my standards are higher than that. I want it to look better than I could do it myself, and I can make some dang good looking desserts, if I do say so myself.

So here’s hoping Edgar knows what he’s doing.

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So that just leaves programs, cups, chairs, tablecloths,
wrapping, video editing, photo scanning, moving, underwear,
plates & utensils, reception playlist, emergency kit, coffee carafes
Christmas presents, hot chocolate ingredients, s’mores, marriage license,
nails, make-up, dinner, exit strategy, thank-you notes, honeymoon packing,
gift buying for the wedding party tinies, my rehearsal dinner outfit,
fixing the errant wedding delivery I received last night, cake
and a partridge in a pear tree to figure out this week.

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I can literally feel my heart rate accelerating.

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So I’m thankful for the Peace on Earth part of Christmas right now. And for a four hour drive all to myself tomorrow to listen to my Yuletide Playlist*. And for a really great boss who gave me a week off.

And in one week, I’ll be together with all my family and dearest friends.

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Just gotta make it through the next 8 days.

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Then wedded bliss.

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*It’s actually titled Jesus and Mary, What a Great Day. And it fantastic. It’s the perfect mix of cheesy Amy Grant, off-beat cheer, and haunting hymns.

On Monday, we give thanks

And sometimes on Tuesday when Mondays are hard and we don’t get around to it.

We just found out that some very dear friends, some of the most loving and gracious people I know, are enduring a very painful loss with their family.

The skies are dark,
sinking low, laden,
heavy with expectant rain.

And that feels right with my soul today, my heart breaking a little alongside people I love dearly. And I have a list of little things, one I made yesterday,

but today, I’m most thankful for the anticipated Christ child.

A promised light, breaking through our darkness.

Emmanuel, God with us. God, drawing near.

I wrote this just over a year ago on an old blog. A very different situation, but the same familiar sense of grief and loss.

——–

But here are the little things for which I am thankful.

  • Coffee and laughter and future plans with new friends. The joy of life with other people and new relationships.
  • The final countdown: we’re under three weeks, guys!
  • It’s snowing on WordPress. Every time I open my home page, tiny white dots drift from the top of the screen. If it’s going to insist on being 80 degrees outside, at least my computer understands appropriate weather patterns.
  • The new Fair Trade chocolate chips at HEB. I’m determined that as far as it is within my control, I won’t support human enslavement, economically crippling working conditions, and unsustainable growing practices. And coffee and chocolate are two of the worst offenders.
    I realize that it is an incredibly small (and mildly selfish) thing, but I’m grateful that I can support fair and just treatment of other human beings, and still be able to make chocolate chip cookies. (Plus, they are delicious.)
  • My new Christmas album: Christmas by Low. Which Stephen Thompson of NPR’s PCHH calls “cocoa for the soul”. And it is.
  • A really wonderful weekend with my parents. We ate at Pei Wei and picked up my wedding dress and did some Christmas shopping for relatives; it was really lovely.
  • The lighted garland I bought on sale at Target in lieu of a Christmas tree this year.

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Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.