School Advent Program 2009
I still remember the year our firstborn was old enough to know what a birthday is, but too young to understand seasons and time. So we told him that his birthday would happen when it started snowing. That year, it started snowing the week of his birthday — mid-December. It was an unusually late snowfall, and we were saved by Mother Nature’s tardiness.
This year, too, we had a bit of a delay. Snow came unusually early this fall, then vanished, and we were treated to an unbelievably wonderful November here in North Dakota. But alas, just about the time the calendar was turned, down it came, the snow, and in it came, the cold, and here we are, smack dab in the middle of what seems now to be a wintry December after all.
Post Show Performers in the Yellow-lit Snow
And of course, Advent has come as well, but just as I need snow to feel that winter has truly arrived, I need something else to signal Advent. For me, it’s the wreath on the diningroom table, yes, but that doesn’t quite do it. For me, our kids’ elementary school’s annual Advent program is the alarm clock of Advent. Now that the program has happened, and I’ve been duly informed by the sweet voices of little angels in their pretty attire that it is, indeed, time, I’m less resistant to being in this current season. The children have wooed me in.
It’s always an exceptional night — by far, my favorite of all of the programs the elementary school puts on. My friend, Katie, is instrumental in providing the dancing elements, which make it such a special event. The songs, the words, the narration…it’s really and truly a beautiful celebration of what is to come.
And speaking of what is to come, a friend recently shared a reflection on Advent that has stayed with me all week. I thought it would be appropriate to pass a bit of it on to you here. The reflection is from Sallie Latkovich, CSJ, from the opening to the Advent booklet, “Winter’s Wisdom.”
In it, Latkovich says that “The mention of Advent always stirs thoughts of waiting…” and that theologians always speak of reflecting on the three ways of Christ’s coming — in this history of Bethlehem, the daily events of our lives and the second coming in the future. She says, however, that we’ve got it all wrong:
“We need not wait for God. God is always present, always with us. That’s what the name Emmanuel means: God-with-us. And, that’s the primary truth we hear in the Scriptures. God created us, and calls us into relationship. God is indeed present with us, and especially in the person of Jesus the Christ.
“No, this Advent, I’ve come to see that it’s GOD who waits for US. . .
“. . .waits for us to notice that we are indeed created by God.
We are born with unique gifts and qualities
as well as deficiencies and lack of qualities.
God only sees our goodness, and waits for us to notice too.
“. . .waits for us to notice the myriad ways
in which God is with us, always…
“. . .waits for us to notice when we observe people acting in the image of God: in covenant with one another, both those known and unknown, both those alike and those very different.
“. . .waits for us to notice the emptiness in our hearts
that can only be filled by God’s own Self.
“. . .in the season of Advent, as Christmas approaches, God waits for us to notice the wonder and innocence of little children. How God must long for us grownups to be more like them, without guile.
“It is true that in Advent we wait; but really, it is God who waits for us. May we savor and revel in that reality.”
Thank you, God, for your great patience as you await my forward motion toward you. Thank you, dear children and teachers, for the grace you shared with us tonight in all of its tenderness; as good a signal of Advent as any I’ve been privileged to feel.
What is the signal for you? When do you know that it is, indeed, Advent, and how do you celebrate it in your family?
For a special Advent program treat, see video below of my son’s wiggly first-grade song.: