Tag Archives: advent

Advent-December 7

(This post originally appeared at advent2007.wordpress.com on December 7, 2007. It was called “Shepherds”).

On the first day of a new job, one of the first tasks is to introduce the newbie to everyone. It’s part of the orientation, part of saying to the newbie, “here is who you are part of, here is the heritage you are joining.”

On the night Jesus was born, an angel stood in front of some shepherds, telling them that a baby had been born in Bethlehem, the city of David, the city of the shepherd king.

The angel was sending the shepherds to the ultimate in new job orientations.

In thirty years, Jesus was going to describe himself as a shepherd, was going to talk about his work with people in images that would have been completely familiar to these guys that were visiting him that night.

In thirty years, Jesus was going to talk about a shepherd. This shepherd realized that one sheep is away from the others, at risk, alone. This shepherd left a flock of 99 sheep and headed off looking for the one. He was going to talk about finding the one sheep being worth risking everything. After finding the one, this shepherd was going to have a party and tell everyone that the lost sheep was found, everyone.

When Jesus told that story, he had lived in the middle of it, the night he was born.


This post and the rest of my Advent writings are available as a FREE downloadable pdf, advent2008 (Right click on the link to the left and save the file to your computer).


looking ahead

That’s what Advent is about. Looking ahead, anticipating. And today is the first Sunday of Advent.

For Advent this year I’ll be looking ahead and looking back.

I’ve been wrestling for the past couple weeks with the question of my thankfulness, or, more accurately, my lack of it. Into that thinking came Robert Hruzek. Every month he invites people to write a post about what they learned from [something]. For December, the challenge will be “what I learned from the generosity of others.”

As I was thinking about that topic today, I thought of one post, and then another, and then another. I realized that a wonderful approach to Advent, to understanding grace and generosity and unmerited favor (that’s for the seminary trained readers of this blog), would be to be grateful. So that’s going to be my theme for the next month. You can join me each day if you wish.

Some of you will be looking at my Advent ebook starting tomorrow, December 1. I’ve love to know whether it helps your anticipation of Christmas this year.  It is available as a FREE downloadable pdf, advent2008, (Right click on the link to the left and save the file to your computer). Or leave me a comment and I can email it to you. It’s also a digital book on yudu.

Looking ahead to 2009, I’m starting a new site, 300wordsaday.com. I’ll be working with a number of people, maybe with you, to help people follow Jesus 300 words a day. Don’t worry if that isn’t of interest to you. That’s why it will be over there. But I just wanted to let you know.

Why is that what it’s called? Because 300 words is long enough to help us think and not so long we are overwhelmed. It looks exactly like this.

not much year left

At the beginning of the year, I wrote an 8 ways post about goals and about accomplishing stuff (January 1, 2008) . With a month left in the year, I went back to that post to see what I had said, to see how I was doing.

I realized that the original post is worth reviewing as we get to the end of 2008. There is still time to redeem the time.

1. Ask yourself or your partner in accomplishing life, “list three words for the year.”
Rather than giving you a roadmap, these can give your heart direction for the year. (One of our words for the year is “smaller”, reflecting a desire to live more simply with many fewer purchases.) [This was a great idea, except that I don’t remember all three words. One was “smaller,” one was “simpler,” and one may have been “finish.” I’m hoping it was because this has been a year of finishing some things.]

2. Identify month-long rather than year-long goals.
This year I set a goal for August, for thirty days of posting. It was achievable because it was sustainable. I did the same for Advent. I’m planning it again for Lent. [The lent project turned into a group project, which was great And I’m finishing two months of posting tomorrow. And I’m still working with shorter-term goals. What about you?]

3. Talk next to rather than across from a guy.
Nancy realized that part of our success in walking and talking this year came because we weren’t looking at each other. I’m certainly not opposed to looking at my wife–quite the contrary. However, it is easier to talk while side by side. (The real principle here is that we need to make progress comfortable).

4. If “purposes” or “directions” are more helpful than “goals”, great.
Progress is more important than language.

5. Interact with people.
I’ve been stretched by conversations this year in ways that I never would have imagined at the beginning of the year. I think differently than I did…and so do some of the people that I’ve talked with. And the truth? Our projects may fail or fizzle, but the more we are deepening in relationships, with both other humans and with God, the less significant those projects are. [This has been ever more a year of meeting people and talking with people. And of having to remember how important that is.]

6. Let goals masquerade as things you want to do.
You think, “I want to read that particular book.” Do it. Then you will have read something, grown your world, given yourself something to talk with others about, challenged your thinking, and kept either a library or bookstore in business. (And here are some books to consider…from my “bookstore” or I could loan them to you)

7. Tell other people about what you are wanting to do in as direct or vague a way as you want to be held accountable.
There are a bunch of people who are really tired of hearing that we’ve been walking. The more we talked about it, however, the more we knew we needed to keep going. And as we were at the mall this morning, we noticed a couple we know who have decided to walk at the mall. So we’ll keep talking about walking. [They didn’t keep walking. We have. But I am also sure that we need to tell people our core goals. Or we’ll forget them.]

8. Forget about lists. Just live.
(Although ironically, just living can turn into a whole collection of 8 ways lists.)


Advent starts on Monday, December 1 (at least my book does). You could make one of your goals to use an advent calendar or book.

My advent ebook is available as a FREE downloadable pdf, advent2008, (Right click on the link to the left and save the file to your computer). Or leave me a comment and I can email it to you. It’s also a digital book on yudu.

Anticipate anticipation

I thought about calling this post “advent is coming.” And then I realized the humor of that statement. Hence the current title.

Last year for the 25 days before Christmas, the period known as advent, I wrote a daily blog, sort of a digital advent calendar. That blog is now available as a downloadable pdf, advent2008, and as a digital book on yudu.

Feel free to download it and share it and read it.

(Oh yes. To download, put the arrow on this underlined text and right click. Then save the file to your computer)

Let me know if it helps you during this advent season, starting December 1 (I know. The first Sunday of advent is November 30. But that’s not when the book starts).

If you want a paper copy, let me know.


Last Christmas I wrote a sketch for the services at our church. It was called, “Maybe next year.” A guy talked about growing up as a Cubs fan, living with expectant resignation (or resigned expectation). There was always the hope that maybe, just maybe, this would be the year.

We were done with the morning, and everyone had done incredibly well with their parts. It was the time for the last of us to walk across the parking lot.  My boss got to his car and turned and thanked me for my work. My immediate response was to start talking about Easter, to begin the planning for the next big thing in the church calendar.

He told me to stop.

We live, some of us, with a sense of desperation. There is a hole in our hearts that needs to be filled with … something. We have a dream that will change everything, we are sure. If we pull this thing off, all will be well. If we can just….

And then we ache, right after our greatest success.  “The adrenaline is wearing off,” we tell ourselves. “Lack of sleep,” we assure others of the reason for our sudden crankiness. After leaning into the wind, it is hard to stand up when it stops.

When I find myself looking for the next thing to do, when I find it impossible to wind down from being constantly connected, when I am looking for a list of things that I have completed to prove that I’m really not taking time off, I’m really not being unproductive…I realize that I am getting my value from my busyness, from my ability to impress people with my ability.

And that runs contrary to everything I believe to be true about God and His work.

I am constantly telling people that God wants to heal us and help us. That He made us and loves us. That He cares for and about us. I constantly talk about grace and peace. Is there a place for obedience? Absolutely, but not to a cop or a crackpot. Obedience to someone who loves me.

And then, in the midst of this teaching others about grace, I find myself wasting immense energy trying to do just the right thing. When the right thing is, at time, just sitting and waiting.

I don’t want to end this Christmas like last year, experiencing an event that serves as a the new record which must be beaten in the next holiday competition. More than presents, I want to know the Presence.

Maybe…this year.


For more on a journey through anticipation, join me at advent2007.wordpress.com

looking ahead

A couple weeks ago, I was in a coffee chain. I noticed a Christmas tree with little boxes, each numbered. It was an advent tree, complete with chocolate.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my immediate response was, “I should try an Advent calendar-blog.” So that’s what I’m doing.

Starting on Saturday, December 1, I’ll be doing daily posts at advent2007.wordpress.com. (I won’t stop writing here, by the way. There are still 8 ways to not do lots of things. And, of course, there are other things to talk about as well.)

As I started thinking about how to look at Advent, at this season of time in anticipation of Christmas, I started thinking about people who live in expectation. I started reading through the book of Luke in the Bible (partly because that’s what Linus quotes in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). And as I read, I realized that it is full of people who had holes in their lives.

So that’s what I’ll be talking about.

The first post, for December 1, is about a couple of people who are living good lives, who have been for a long time, and who aren’t getting what they want most.

If you want to be part of this project, head over to advent2007.wordpress.com and bookmark it or add it to your feedreader. Then, starting Saturday, follow along as we look with anticipation at Christmas.