In the last several years though our family has begun to shift away from the typical view of seeing Christmas as the end of the year and January as the beginning of a new one. Now obviously we cannot escape using dates and calendars and national liturgy in a lot of aspects, nor is there reason to. Our practice though, what liturgy is used to govern our worship, is now determined by the Church calendar and the life of Christ.
Liturgy is a difficult word for many people. It conjures up images of stiff, boring, and repetitive church services at worst, or dry and quiet ones at best. This kind of understanding tends to make us think that liturgy is something that we do or do not do based on our preference and that it is only found within the walls of a church building…usually one that houses a catholic, lutheran or other such religion.
But liturgy is something that we all do. My routine, or liturgy, in the morning consist of quiet time, drinking a cup of coffee, checking email, etc. At six I wake my girls up. For three of them the morning liturgy is a cup of hot tea; for the oldest it’s just quietness so she can wake up slowly. We all have our own way of doing…of being…that is pretty set but there are outside factors that help shape our liturgies. For my girls I am the outside influence…I shape their routine by deciding when they wake up. My liturgy is shaped by my need for coffee to wake me up and prepare me to start their day 🙂 All those little liturgies, if you will, are shaped and formed by greater outside influences…namely when school begins for the day.
For most of us our way of marking time is flipping the calendar starting in January and moving through the twelve months with it’s various events, personal and public, noted and acknowledged. So technically we are coming to the end of the year aren’t we?
We view the coming celebration of the birth of Christ as the beginning of our new year. And on Sunday we will begin the season of Advent, both at church as well as in our home. Advent, which simply means “coming” or “arrival”, is a beautiful way to prepare for Christmas day. Celebrating advent for our family is somewhat new and we are still figuring out what it will look like. It will be different than last year’s celebration and will probably not look completely the same next year. But our desire is to create a liturgy over the next few weeks that will establish a rhythm that will cultivate an awareness of our need for a Savior. It is a celebrating of the truth Christ has come, that He is present now, and that He will come again. It opens a door that will lead us to the cross and even now begins to prepare us for Easter.
In our home we will slowly begin to put our some decorations this Saturday. We’ll use evergreen garland and boughs to remind us that everlasting life has come with the arrival of Christ child. Our advent wreath with it’s three purple candles, one pink and one white will find a prominent place in our living room. Other things will eventually be put out with the idea that they are leading up to something bigger and on Christmas Eve we’ll put up and decorate our tree. For some the idea of decorating this way seems crazy but we want to mimic the way smaller signs and wonders came and foretold the coming of the Messiah with the culmination being, obviously, the birth of Christ…the true Light of the World. It’s a small thing but something we think can enhance our celebration and enjoyment of the true reason for this time of year.