Sunday, November 29, 2015

So This is the New Year! Advent 2015- A Year in Review

Advent is here! And with that, a new liturgical year. Time to take a look back on the end of 2014 and 2015 and look ahead to the Year of Mercy!

Started the year out in Philly with these two...been doing NYE with these guys for years now!
 We had a terrible winter again this year, so a friend and I planned a trip to see our friend in Florida

I did Spring Break on my own this year, went to Texas to explore Austin and visited a friend

 Above: Rang in my 34th birthday with some BBQ and live band karaoke in DC!
 Below: Wine Club with some of my favorite fellow teachers continued with Memorial Day celebration!

 Summer 2015 brought a trip to Italy, a trip home to see my family (niece and nephew featured below) and a move to RVA  for a new job and to be closer to some of my favorite girls ( also below).

 I only had one wedding this year!!!! A favorite from RVA! And let's not forget that I spent much of this year working up in NoVA at the winery:
The above pictures were just some of the highlights. There were so many to pick from this year! So many great trips, new friends, new adventures. I took art classes, started teaching a new grade at a new school, developed a new curriculum and became an RCIA sponsor (and I'm super excited for the Easter Vigil this year because of it!). And most recently, I've had many friends come to visit me in my new place in RVA. This year's themes have definitely been that of Gratitude for God's gifts and looking forward to the Year of Mercy which starts during Advent on Dec. 8- The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

As I look toward the year of Mercy and Christmas, I think about what I should do, of course, for Advent. It's here! And I no longer have my spiritual director close by, so I'm left to come up with my own spiritual exercises for now. I definitely want to get back into reading the daily readings. I had done well with that when I first moved to Richmond, but of course life and craziness start to creep in. My students had to make Advent calendars with something that they were going to do each day during Advent. I wanted to do the same, but wanted to have a consistent theme.

I started getting into the holiday spirit EARLY this year. It's hard not to when it's in our faces on TV and in the stores and on the streets. I was watching a movie recently over Thanksgiving and the song "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was featured. I thought of what beautiful lyrics that song has and an idea came to mind: why not meditate each day during Advent on the lyrics of a religious Christmas song?

I want to focus on the Incarnation this Advent- what it means that Jesus came into our world. I think Christmas Songs do a really good job of this. The authors of those songs had deep spiritual roots and took time and meditation to write them. And so, I've decided that my Advent promise is to be more intentional and incarnational; to read the Scriptures every day and to meditate on the lyrics of a religious Christmas song leading up to Christmas. To really bring the Word of God to life this Advent.

I thought...maybe this should be a Christmas season meditation? But the more I thought about it, Advent is preparing us for the Incarnation. And like I said before, I think the messages of most of these Christmas songs really help us to focus on the event of God becoming flesh, which is The Incarnation.

If you want to follow a long with me, here is the list that I've made for myself! I started out strong, and then started to have to pull from the archives for some of these songs, but I'm excited and feel free to pray along with me!

Nov. 29: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Nov. 30: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Dec. 1: Silent Night
Dec. 2: O Holy Night
Dec. 3: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Dec. 4: Angels We Have Heard on High
Dec. 5: I Saw Three Ships/Ding Dong Merrily on High (2 separate songs...1 is shorter than the other!)
Dec. 6: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Dec. 7: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
Dec. 8: Away in a Manger
Dec. 9: The First Noel
Dec. 10: Joy to the World
Dec. 11: We Three Kings
Dec. 12: Fum Fum Fum
Dec. 13: Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
Dec. 14: Go Tell it on a Mountain
Dec. 15: Coventry Carol/Once in Royal David's City (again, another double up!)
Dec. 16: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Dec. 17: Good King Wenceslas
Dec. 18: O Come All Ye Faithful
Dec. 19: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Dec. 20: What Child is This
Dec. 21: Mary Did You Know
Dec. 22: Little Drummer Boy
Dec. 23: The Friendly Beasts
Dec. 24: Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming

There has been, of course, lots to pray for this year. Our world seems ever more volatile and hostile with reports of terrorist attacks, random acts of violence with guns, and just general lack of empathy for one another everywhere. We need the Peace and Mercy of Christ ever more this Advent. Again, I think the messages of these Christmas carols also promote those things. Let's pray that the Peace of Christ really does become Incarnate in a new way this Advent and Christmas seasons.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

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