Dear Friends in Christ,

The Advent wreath is up on the Ashby family dinner table and the first purple candle has already started to shrink. As we light it nightly during our meal, we sing an Advent song and then everyone answers the question: “Where do you see hope right now?” Next week as we light two candles, the theme of the question will change from hope to peace, then to joy, then to love.

This practice will obviously become a much more meaningful one in a few years when our daughters will be old enough to take part, but it seems appropriate for this time of watching and waiting for a future event to begin now. We are using these earlier years to build the family traditions that  we’ll use to teach spiritual practices and the meaning this special season while holding the thrilling anticipation of what it will be like to see them grow up this way.

While I’m thinking over the dinner table wreath, I’ll share another couple of things I enjoy about our practice of lighting the candles at home. I treasure my little bit of peaceful time I spend at the very beginning of the season walking around our yard with clippers trying to find the best bits of evergreen to use—a careful mix of different shades and textures. Then as I fit them around our circular wire frame I can feel myself entering into a spirit of preparation.

I love every year being able to see the passage of time in the relative height of the candles. By the end of these four weeks, more like five this year, the first purple candle will be a little nub, and the others will also be longer or shorter depending on when we started lighting them. By Christmas, we’ll be able to look back over the journey through the weekly themes of Advent and have an image to reflect on for how meaningful it has been to us.

My encouragement to all of you is to make time during these few short weeks to find a similar practice for yourself or your family. The possibilities are varied so you can choose what works best for you. Light a wreath, keep an Advent calendar, read a daily devotion, or do some combination of all of these! Take full advantage of this time of preparation to be ready to meet the newly born Jesus again this Christmas.


Father Steve

This Sunday’s lessons: