I have another series to add to my advent collection - Steve Bell's Pilgrim Year. It will join others on my coffee table and beside the Christmas tree... and this morning I simply have his companion song "May It Be Done" in my earbuds on repeat.
Randy brought our tree home yesterday - cold, tight and tied up. We balanced it in the tree stand and poured warm water into the well. Over the evening its branches settled into their well tended shape and started filling the room with the scent of balsam. We'll decorate sometime in the next few days.
Each year there are new stories to add to our family - new adventures, new struggles, travels and friendships. And each year there are stories not told - my son travelling through Egypt has given me snippets and snapshots of his days, but I look forward to sitting across the table from him and hearing the stories pour out.
I love stories. I love well-told stories. I love gut-wrenching true stories that shape us. I love stories of redemption. I love stories that children tell, and the ways they tell them. I love the stories that intersect with Jesus, and shift and change in that intersection. I love the opportunity of Advent to tell the stories of faith to another generation. I love the way Advent helps us to become storytellers, rather than deferring to the professionals. These stories become more familiar each year, and they shift and shimmer as we journey through our lives, so that different parts of the story shine differently through the lens of each year's events.
I am gaining respect for storytellers who are not afraid of a story that is in process. Telling a story, letting the story heal. Telling a story while unsure of how the story will end ... letting the telling of the story reveal the healing. I am used to carefully sculpted, scripted story telling so that I can control what I say, and what I reveal. There is a beautiful, vivid color and courage to stories still at work in people's lives.
What do we do with a story that is not yet done, that is not done shaping us, not done finding resolution, not done intersecting with our Creator and Savior?
Advent is about waiting - even though we know that actually the event we "wait for" has already happened. We count the days to Christmas, and we long for the story to resolve in our own lives. So Advent can become a rehearsal, and walking with the wise men following their star, walking with Mary as she lives out the consequences of her "yes" to the angel, walking with Joseph as he stumbles through a commitment that he does not understand, walking with shepherds, blinded in the night by a strange announcement...