Advent: 1 thing to try, 1 thing to taste

So many people are interested in being more intentional about learning about the Jewish and Christian calendars, but don’t quite know where to start. I’m very happy I can commend a resource that offers a thoughtful historical and devotional overview of each calendar, but also know that many people feel as through attempting to participate will be a pile-on of extra stuff to do (and extra guilt to feel if they can’t do it).

And there is no time of year when the pile-on of “to do’s” hits like an avalanche like it does in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In secular consumer culture, Advent is code for “xx shopping days until Christmas”. However, Advent is a wonderfully counter-cultural invitation to do less. Here’s your quick five-minute overview of the history and spiritual intent of this first season on the Christian liturgical calendar: Click here

519RT1msGVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_As I noted in my book, we can’t all do everything, but it behooves us all to learn a little something about each calendar – and then begin allow the rhythm of one to shape our discipleship journey, one step at a time. As we approach each holy day or season named in both the Jewish and Christian calendars, I’m offering one small, do-able step you, your family, small group, or church can use to move their learning from the page to your own practice. I’m also including a fun recipe you may wish to try. There are a few recipes in the back of Moments & Days, but the recipes you’ll find on this blog in this series didn’t make it into the book.

> To do: Advent

I’ve found that the simplest way to begin orienting my heart toward the incarnation is to set apart a few moments each day of this season to ponder a waiting-related Scripture. You can find a variety of sources online:
There are also a number of wonderful daily devotional books you can use to encourage contemplation and prayer. Below are just a few:
Unto Us A Child Is Born – a pocket-sized booklet, also by beloved writer Henri Nouwen, that’ll give you a brief meditation for each day of Advent.
A Quiet Chamber Kept For Thee – Another affordable pocket-sized booklet of daily meditations I wrote last year.
Light Upon Light – Sarah Arthur compiled a rich volume of beautiful writing to carry you through the entire season – Advent to Epiphany.
Silence And Other Surprising Invitations Of Advent – Emuna Okoro traces the Advent story through the experience of the parents of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptizer.
In past years, I’ve participated in an Instagram journey through Advent via the online community of St. John The Evangelist. This year, I’ll be using my Instagram account to focus on Old Testament Scriptures I’ll be praying related to the theme of waiting. Please join me there!
What are some of your favorite Advent resources? Please include them in the comments section below.

> To Eat: Advent

Advent was originally meant to be a time of fasting and spiritual preparation. In that spirit, and because most of us may need a few simple, healthy meals during a season when Christmas cookies are everywhere, I offer you a recipe for a humble vegetarian soup full of middle-eastern flavor to remind you of Advent’s intent and spiritual roots. Enjoy!

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced or chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 32 oz box vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon
  • handful of cilantro, chopped

Sauté the onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and spices, sauteeing them for a couple of minutes more. Add tomatoes, lentils, stock, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Off the heat, squeeze lemon juice into the soup, taste for salt, and stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with warmed pita wedges.

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