Day 11. Simple Glad Tidings.

Lynne reflects on the simplicity of child-like faith, and how it influences her expression in her art. Not always polished or expected, but authentically unrefined, her paintings capture the purity of expression found in children. She compares her work to a child-like angel, simple yet filled with joy and wonder, embodying a message of joy, genuineness and delight.

Day 10. A Little Night Music.

Karen Nelson recounts her long service as a musician in both a Catholic and a Presbyterian church, leading worship each week and directing choirs. Despite the demanding work, the experiences were profoundly fulfilling for her. Ten years ago, following a Christmas Eve service, she experienced a profound and inexplicable communion with a Higher Presence, which transformed her understanding of her role and music in worship. This encounter unveiled to her the essence of Advent – a harmonious waiting filled with grace, just like her choruses.

Day 9. Light Within.

Mary Pandiani reflects on the essence of the Advent season and Christmas, illustrating it through the joy of a newborn baby. She emphasizes that God’s presence and gift of light are within everyone, a view supported by William Shannon.

Day 8. Walking in Darkness.

Sandy Shipman recounts a challenging but beautiful hike in Arches National Park in the pitch dark, which serves as a metaphor for darker times in life. The author relates her experiences to Advent, emphasizing endurance through darkness and the hope represented by light.

Day 7. Held.

On December 12, 2023, Debbie Waite led ‘The Mindful Writing Workshop’ where participants engaged in reflective reading and writing exercises inspired by Psalm 27, Isaiah 4:2-6, and Acts 11:1-18.

Day 6. Wait Is a Four-Letter Word.

Zoanna expresses difficulty embracing Advent while waiting in everyday life. She suggests that amid such pauses, reflecting on words like “Wait, Hope, Love, Rest” is enough.

Day 5. Haiku.

The Selah Center recently held a Poustinia, a Russian tradition of silent retreat for prayer and solitude, to prepare participants for Advent. This practice seeks to remove distractions and foster clearer communication with God. Wendy Bryant, one of the participants, shared her contemplative experience through a heartfelt prayer during the retreat. The center also followed the Revised Common Lectionary for daily scripture readings during Advent.

Day 4. Arrival.

Christopher Ball reflects on anticipation, endurance, and faith for Advent Day 3.

Day 3. A Sweet Treat for You.

The post explores the tradition and significance of Advent calendars that count down the days until Christmas. Originated by German Lutherans, these calendars have evolved to include devotional readings or small gifts. The author relives her childhood enthusiasm for Advent calendars through daily contemplative writings on the ‘Here & Now’ blog.

Day 2. A Season of Waiting.

Lorina Meade reflects on the importance of living in the present moment, particularly during Advent. She compares it to the Biblical manna, the daily sustenance provided by God, emphasizing the need to trust in God’s daily provisions while also anticipating the future. Meade encourages enjoying Christmas traditions and preparations as they happen, rather than rushing towards the main day, thereby capturing the essence of ‘nowness’.

Day 1. Advent Begins Today.

In her personal and spiritual journey, Karen Nelson navigates through grief and loneliness, finding solace in the Advent season. She explores how accepting grief can pave the way for joy and overall spiritual growth.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we light the Christ candle signifying the birth of Jesus.

The Gospel of Luke

The Christmas Story

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 

17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

GLORY TO GOD

IN THE HIGHEST

HEAVEN

AND ON EARTH

PEACE

AMONG THOSE

WHOM HE FAVORS


Wrapping Up

By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
Selah Companion

Today is the last day of Advent, and our Advent series also concludes. On behalf of all of the writers, our executive director Mary Pandiani, and myself, thank you for following this special edition of the Here & Now blog. Look for us as we return to our once-weekly posting. 

We’d love your thoughts about this grown-up Advent Calendar and the Here & Now blog. If you’d like to stay in touch with the blog, then I recommend you “follow” this blog or, with your email, receive an email from us when a blog posts.

I pray your Christmas is holy and joyous and joy-filled. May you find time today and on Christmas to pause and know that you are also part of the Christmas story. Now that’s a gift worth savoring, better than chocolate! 

Look for a new post for New Year’s. Until then, Christmas blessings.
Debora