Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent 2017-- Week 1 (December 3-9) photos and reflections

It is the second week of December and I haven't posted since October. It isn't that I haven't had things to share or good intentions (we know which roads are paved with those) nor that I haven't wanted to. It has been a matter of making the time to sit and write.  Then, there is the question 'where does one start when there has been so much passed by?'

I will start with the present.  We just finished the first week of Advent and today began week 2.  This year I wanted to to an Advent Photo-A-Day challenge again, but couldn't find one.  I later learned that #rethinkchurch put one out. That was after I created one, using last year's from Alive Now as a model.  I am grateful to Beth Richardson and her Alive Now for last year's Advent Photo challenge.

The photo a day challenge gives me something to focus on daily during Advent.  I also created a daily Scripture reading plan again this year that I gave out to the parish.

We started off the season with a Women's Advent Retreat on December 1st, led by Sam Kauffman.  That got us off to a good start for the season.  I haven't had a chance to go back over my notes, but we were given quite a few ideas on ways to celebrate Advent practically.

I've also gained from others, learning about life-size Advent wreaths in the yard, Advent rocks, smaller Advent wreaths with tea light candles.

Life-size Advent Wreath

"Light two candles to watch for Messiah: 

let the light banish darkness. 
He shall feed the flock like a shepherd, 
gently lead them homeward".

Advent Rocks

(Both the wreath and the rocks are compliments of Patrick Hunt.)

I thought I would share the Advent Photo A Day Challenge for the season and what I posted for each day.

Each day I post the word of the day, along with a short thought about the word on the Holston GaP Parish Facebook page.  I post my picture and thoughts sometime during the day on my Instagram and Facebook account, then add to the comments on the Holston GaP Parish Facebook page.

Today begins the Advent season and the Advent Photo-A-Day challenge. Today's word is hope. What signifies hope to you? Where do you see hope?

Today's word is wait. What picture reflects the concept of wait for you? What are you waiting for during the Advent season?

Today's word is darkness. Where are you experiencing darkness this Advent season? What is the darkness in your life these days? What is darkness to you?

Today's word is preparation. What preparations are you making during the Advent season? What are you preparing for? What are you being prepared for?

Today's word is light. What is light to you? How does light impact your life?

Today's word is sign. What signs are you seeing or looking for during the Advent season? What symbols are meaningful to you that become signs?

Today's word is ponder. What causes you to ponder? What are you pondering? What does the word ponder create in you?

Here are my photos for this first week of Advent with my reflections.  Some are serious; some are not.

December 3

Hope. As Advent begins, I see hope in the blooms of these yellow flowers in the bush in my backyard in December. There is always hope for things (and people and churches) to bloom and grow even when everything else around them is dying. #hope #adventphoto #holstongap

December 4

Today's word is wait. Psalm 62:5--"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." As I waited for my interview time on October 30th, I walked in the park across the street from the church. This heart is one of the things I saw in my waiting. During this Advent season, my heart needs time to wait in silence. #adventphoto #wait #holstongap

December 5

Today's word is darkness. I think of the hymn "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" that has the line in it: "in him there is no darkness at all" in the refrain. 1 John 1:5 is a reminder that God is light. There is darkness in life. Not all darkness is "bad". Dark times in our lives allow for growth, such as the dark night of the soul and the dark ground that allows the seeds to sprout and grow before they push up through the soil. Walking through darkness helps one appreciate the light. My photo choice today is somewhat lighter in content, but the roast itself is dark. #adventphoto #darkness #holstongap

December 6

Today's word is preparation. The church has prepared for the Advent season by decorating the doors, the windows, putting up the Advent wreath and a tree. This is always a beautiful time. Preparation isn't solely for the external factors. There is a needed internal preparation of our hearts, souls, and minds. How are we preparing? May we make time for the preparation for the One who is coming. It can be a time of renewal, healing, and hope.

December 7

Today's word is light. The light breaks through the clouds and the darkness. One small light can brighten a dark space. Light is also interior and shines from within. May the Light shine today where you need it most: to lighten a path so you know the next step, to offer hope, to create a bright spot. #light#Adventphoto #holstongap

December 8

Today's word is sign. What signs are you seeing or looking for during the Advent season? What symbols are meaningful to you that become signs?

When I went into the kitchen this morning, there was this spot on the kitchen rug. It immediately caught my attention. It looks like a heart to me. Maybe not a perfectly drawn heart nor how our hearts look inside our bodies, but it registered close enough. This symbol, the heart, has become a sign for me. When I see hearts in clouds, trees, rocks, gum, tar, water puddles from runoff, and blotches, I am reminded that I am loved. I am reminded that the Creator is love. #seeaheartshareaheart #sign #Adventphoto#holstongap

December 9

Today's Advent word is #ponder. At the Frist museum outing with the art students, I found myself reflecting and pondering quite a bit. It was a time to slow down and observe. This is one of Nick Cave's pieces. As we are in the Advent season, the pickle, which is used in Christmas traditions, caught my eye. It is good to make space to ponder. #ponder#Adventphoto #holstongap

That's it.  Week 1 of Advent Photos and reflections.  How is your Advent journey going so far?

Blessings on your journey! 

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