My brother was home from college and I was a busy high school student. Neither of us felt any guilt when we refused to help our parents decorate for Christmas. We didn’t have the time or the patience to haul boxes from the basement, test bundles of tree lights, unwrap ornaments, or help move furniture. Maneuvering around the boxes stacked in the living room, we escaped for the afternoon. I remember coming home, happy to see the lights flickering in the windows, the large evergreen wreath on the door, and a sense that the season had truly arrived. Entering the house, I realized my parents had made a unique choice in decorating that year. In years past, my brother and I had intentionally ignored the childhood art projects and old family ornaments that had been carefully preserved in pieces of old newspaper. My parents had taken a different approach. The tree was filled with tiny plaster handprints, glitter encrusted stars, and some very lopsided snowmen. Looking through the tree’s branches, I could find ornaments made their first year of marriage hanging next to ornaments my great grandmother had brought from Norway. The tree was even topped with two angels: one that had Robert’s signature around the base and another made from my first grade handprints. The table had an Advent wreath made out of faded green construction paper, painted dowels made to look like candles, and flames that were attached with Velcro. What a collection! We laughed, and occasionally cringed, as we looked through the treasures they had been found. Then the stories began. We debated when the Advent wreath had been made and who was its creator; exactly how long it had taken to complete one particular ornament, and even laughed about the mismatched nativity ultimately wondering what exactly had happened to the long missing camel.
Our experiences shape the way we see and understand the world. What may seem inconsequential can sometimes take on holy purpose—not unlike a faded paper advent wreath lost in the bottom of a box of Christmas decorations. Advent is a season to prepare, to reorient our lives towards the promise of Christmas. We change our homes, we change our church, we even change our schedules; but do we always remember to name what it is we are doing? On Sunday December 2nd at 11:15, the congregation is invited to the Advent Workshop. We will be making ornaments, Advent calendars, cards for our college students, decorations for the church, and a few small gifts to give away. It is a space to talk about what we believe, to honor the work of preparing, and to create something that a few years from now can be a reminder of those conversations and the promise of this season. We hope that you will join us and create a few memories of your own.