Weekend Reading: Get your Advent on!

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.

1. Advent Hymns & Carols (One Per Day) (TheHomelyHours.com)

Would you like to learn some more Advent hymns and carols? Now you can. Playlist included.

2. Observing Advent (GenerousOrthodoxy.org)

Maybe the first thing that needs to be said is that Advent, more than any other season of the church year, is countercultural. Lent and Holy Week are supremely countercultural also, but our culture is accustomed to Lent, in at least some respects: the hot-cross buns, the ashes, the rush to church in New Orleans on Ash Wednesday after Mardi Gras, the palms. During Lent, the crowds on Fifth Avenue in New York take no notice of the Lenten array in the churches because they aren’t expecting anything. But when a tourist steps into St Thomas Fifth Avenue on the week before Christmas and sees no display of red poinsettias, it’s an outrage. The purpose of this withholding is to teach us that, in the birth of our Savior, we have received something that is beyond our deserving, beyond our preparations, beyond our human potential, beyond our expectations–that comes to us, in the words of beloved carols, in a “silent night,” in the “dark streets,” “in the bleak midwinter,” in “such a world as this,” to “save us all from Satan’s power.”

3. Angels of Advent (First Things)

We’re so familiar with this Christmas scene that we don’t realize how unique it is. Among the saints of Israel, only Jacob saw what those shepherds saw, the hosts of heaven, and Jacob didn’t hear them sing. In the old covenant, angelic hosts stayed put in heaven, worshipping at the heavenly throne. With the birth of Jesus, heaven comes to earth. As they sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

4. The Jesse Tree

This is one of my posts from last year — an introduction to an Advent practice we started in 2017. It may be too late to make your own Jesse Tree ornaments for this year (Advent starts tomorrow, you know!) but there are loads of printables you can find online. We found that it worked pretty well for us last year, and I’m looking forward to trying it again with kids who are a year older and a self who’s a little less frazzled and more experienced!