Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trying On Advent

This morning, before church, I was reading through a few of my favorite blogs and I realized it was the first Sunday of Advent.  Though I didn't have a wreath with purple and pink candles, I donned my purple suit coat instead.  I may wear it for the next two Sundays. Then, I will wear pink.  Dare I say it?  I think I will be the candle.  A living light. That's kind of a tall order for me, a sinner.  A mother with children and hectic work, school, sports, and church schedules.  I can bend my "light" toward crabby in an impatient instant.  But, I'm thinking that's what Advent might be for.  A preparation, a mindfulness, attending to the Christ child the way I would my own.  I wonder if anyone will notice? I want to prepare my mind and heart for the coming of Jesus.

I remember the Advent wreaths and calendars in my home as I was growing up. It was almost magical opening the little doors of the calendar and lighting those candles, though I admit, I didn't understand their meaning at the time. Truly, most of what I remember of those Advent days was squabbling with the rest of my 9 siblings over who was going to get to open the little calendar door or light the purple candle, and the hurt feelings that ensued after discovering it wasn't me. That, and no one ever seemed to want to do the reading part.   Now, I have a strong desire to do the reading part.

I came across a book review by Glynn Young in his blog Faith, Fiction and Friends of Discovering Advent, by Mark D. Roberts.   Young wrote a compelling review.  I know this because after reading it, I was compelled to buy the e-book this morning and read it this afternoon.   So now,  I can vouch for both reviewer and author. =)

As I was reading through Discovering Advent, it occurred to me that my work in raising and photographing monarch butterflies is another way of looking at Advent which is latin for "coming."  As I raise and photograph the  monarch transformation (which I affectionately refer to as a "Trust-formation,") I wait and hope for the promise of a monarch butterfly.  In the same way, I wait and hope and actively engage with the spirit of God in my own transformation or Trust-formation when I choose to abide in him.  In the same way, I wait in hopeful anticipation for the second coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his promises.   I appreciated that  Mark Roberts encourages us to enter into this time of Advent creatively.  

He writes, "All families are different, and I encourage you to adapt or to change what I suggested here, or do something completely original."

And so, over the next 4 Sundays,  I offer my Advent blog post, Trying On Advent.  I will use 4 photographs of the progressive transformation of monarchs I've raised to illustrate the "coming" combined with the following excerpts from  Mark Roberts' Advent Devotional Guide which is also found in his wonderful book Discovering Advent.  The photographs and prayers are from me.

A special thank you to Glynn Young and Mark D. Roberts for pointing me in this direction.


First Sunday of Advent - Waiting
(from Discovering Advent by Mark D. Roberts)

Advent is a season of waiting, expecting, and hoping. Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent helps us prepare for the coming, or “advent” of the Christ child at Christmas. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word that means “coming.”

We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore. We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus. We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins. We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.  Roberts, Mark D. (2011-11-07). Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime (Kindle Locations 533-537). Patheos. Kindle Edition.

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Psalm 62:5-7
monarch butterfly egg - photo by Patricia Spreng
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6
Roberts, Mark D. (2011-11-07). Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime (Kindle Locations 454-455). Patheos. Kindle Edition.
My prayer:
Thank you for planting the seed of faith in my life... for allowing me to grow in hopeful anticipation as I transform and wait.  For I know whom I have believed...
I wait for your coming Lord Jesus.
Preparing you room…
in my heart, my mind and my home.
I am nesting, as though heavy with child.
My heart quiets and quickens in anticipation of being with you.
Help me to make wise choices in the chaos of Christmas …
taking in, believing, embracing your promise of Christmas…
Emmanuel, God with us.
God with me…
as I wait for you.
Come Lord Jesus.

Patricia Spreng

Sharing with Charity Singleton at Wide Open Spaces for the Advent writing project she is hosting at The High Calling.
with Laura Bogess at The Wellspring


  1. Patricia - thanks for the mention. I really enjoyed the book.

  2. GREAT idea, Pat. You are so creative - it's always fun to check out what you're up to over here. And thanks for your very kind comments at my place. I've been in a funk about writing for a while, but am feeling a bit encouraged to hang in there today. We shall see. Love to you this Advent season!

  3. First Glynn, now you ... I plan to order this book! Advent blessings to you.

  4. Monarch transformation as Advent practice--let heaven and nature sing, indeed!

  5. Patricia... what a wonderful way to put yourself into the season. Beautiful, is all I can say.

  6. beautiful post, Patricia. I, too, enjoy advent - the preparation for and anticipation of celebrating Christ's birth.

  7. Loved that you wore your purple coat and how you wove in your words, and pictures with the message of Advent.

    Thank you!

  8. Look at that tiny little thing!

    You have no idea how impressed I get with your monarch, erm, stalking. That you have an eye to see the egg, the patience to wait and wait and wait for its multiple transformations (see, we all only think about the caterpillar to butterfly part, you watch the egg transform too), and the skill to capture things like mask yanking.

    And now, you have the heart to find Advent waiting right in the middle of it all.

    You, Patricia Spring, rock. Do the Hokey Pokey, baby.

  9. Such a richness here in your Advent celebration, and you as a living candle--what joy!

  10. May we all be the living light. Thanks for sharing your experience of Advent. Blessings.

  11. I love how you see, Pat. And what a perfect Advent practice, this Monarch study. I think God loves it when we get lost in something beautiful the way you do the Monarchs. That's pretty special. Mark's book sounds wonderful too. :)

  12. I came over here today to look up something on butterflies, and you gave me so much more. I love the thought of you as a candle (you are one, you know?)

  13. Patricia - I love how you have incorporated so many different angles of celebrating this season, and I especially love the connection with the Monarchs. I'll be back to read your other posts.

    Thanks for linking up with the writing project, too!


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