Monday, December 03, 2012

first week in Advent: music and journey

Advent: a season of preparation, a season which calls us to reflect in the midst of what is often seen as a season of hurry, noise,and obligation, of difficult weather and difficult conversations. Yet, in the midst of all this, comes the call to reflection, to preparation, to celebration. berries in ireland copyright kerry dexter

When I was growing up, we had a creche, figures for a Christmas manger scene. On the first Sunday in Advent, there was the tree branch and the evergreen sprigs by the fireplace. All across the house, from different directions in different places, those who would end up at that place on Christmas eve set out on their individual journeys.

Mary and Joseph and their donkey, the wise men, among them the white haired one whose feet had been dented in some past year, the red bearded one whose beard and hat had been touched up in different shades of red over the years, the stately man from Africa with his silver and cream robes. Closer by, in another corner of the room with the fireplace, shepherds kept watch over their flocks, flocks which included stone sheep with coats which had once been fuzzy but had been worn a bit thin by loving hands over time, plastic sheep with perky faces, and a couple of small metal cows. Out in the kitchen on top of the refrigerator, over by the advent wreath by the front window in the living room, and in the branches of the Christmas tree, a band of angels hung out, a motley crew of soulful looking ceramic ones of the same vintage as the stately wise men, a lively group of plastic musicians with harp, drum, fiddle, and trumpet, and silver ones with trumpets -- and now and then as the years went by a cowboy or two, who sometimes joined the shepherds and sometimes worked with the angels.

I still remember the sense of wonder and joy I felt when as a tiny child, I saw these people and animals arrive on the first Sunday in Advent-- and the next evening, when I found that each of them had moved! For quite some years I thought that Mary and Joseph and the donkey and the wise men and the camels and the angels and the shepherds and the sheep were moving by themselves. I found that there was just as much joy and wonder present for me when, as the years went on, I had the chance to be one of those who helped them on their journeys. Looking back across the years, I still see the season of Advent as a time of journey.

I still have that wise man in his silver robe, and the fiddling angel, one or two of the fuzzy sheep, and Mary and Joseph and the donkey. They are on their Advent journeys even now....

Music to go along with these ideas

trilogy: 2000 Years of Christmas

Gretchen Peters: Northern Lights

Narada presents the Best of Celtic Christmas

This is the seventh year we have been marking Advent and its music here along the music road. Thank you for joining us. To find articles on Advent and music from earlier times, there's the search box at upper right.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

6 Comments:

Anonymous merr said...

Reading your essay I have come to think of advent as expected waiting with specific intention. Very nice piece.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous ChristineGL said...

Such a lovely reminder of what the advent season is about. Reading this gave me a moment of respite and calm.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Alisa Bowman said...

Love traditions like this. It's what helps hold the meaning of the season.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

You reminded me of the wonder of childhood, no small feat since I'm 65! Loved the cowboy thrown into the mix.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous wandering educators said...

LOVE this. i grew up with a similar creche set, and reading your descriptions made me smile.

12:17 PM  
Blogger MyKidsEatSquid said...

What a great perspective--of seeing the season as a journey. My kids unwrapped our nativity scene this week and it was interesting to sit back and watch them place each piece. I don't have a manger for it so the kids created their own.

9:52 AM  

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