Every year, Thanksgiving weekend, from the big box marked “Advent”, I eagerly pull out “A Child is Born” written by J. Barrie Sheppard. Morning and evening prayers and meditations gush from chosen Scriptures, from the first day of Advent to Christmas Day.
The book was a gift from the dearest of friends, Catholic by baptism.
In the non-liturgical, Zionist, protestant culture of my family roots, I was unaware of most church traditions once observed by Catholics and Protestants equally.
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Within a few years of Mike and I having become a family (the two become one, remember) I knew I was missing something at Christmas. We hadn’t any offspring and having heard so often that Christmas was “for the children”, we wondered where that left us.
I marveled about the Twelve days of Christmas and liturgical Advent. I never pounded very hard at uncovering what was a mystery to me, but every year some new information or history surfaced and furthered my understanding.
I found in a second hand shop, an old copy of the Common Book of Prayer, c. 1945 but ratified in 1790. This little book laid out the church year beginning with Advent. It is rich with thoughtfully written prayers, and ceremonies, I could only imagine in another time, another place; history at my fingers. Our founding fathers and their wives read these prayers to their children and grandchildren! The beautifully musty pages set my path and I was on my way!
An article in the local rag explained what each of the Twelve Days icons represented. Interesting. There is purpose in the Days betwixt Christmas Day and what? Another feast day? Epiphany.
I found different Seasons: Advent – the weeks of Darkness and Preparation; Christmastide- the twelve days observing the Light and Glorious Day of God Incarnate ; Epiphany- the manifestation of God to the gentiles through the Magi (January 6 until Candlemas on February 2).
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And now… Back to the Book that opened this article and my Catholic friend.
She and I met within the time of my rock rolling. My fascination with the liturgical church had arrested me with the charm of its traditions and my new friend had encouragement for my endeavors. She gave me this book of advent meditations. Her inscription inside reminded me not to allow function of tradition to overcome the principle basis in our Celebration. Our salvation is not hinged on whether or not I can manage to organize my family well enough to ponder a daily reading (or weekly, eek) or if my children know what the twelve days represent. The focus is not the feast day but the Deliverance brought by the Child Born.
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Neither of us “practice” the doctrine, per se, of the order in which we were reared, but not out disrespect of how our parents wisely brought us to Christ. She cherishes her Roman Catholic background as I my own of the Pentecostal. God brought us together that the years would eventually reveal, a search for living in Christ; not Catholic, not Protestant. But our perspective childhoods create a latticework of friendship where the catholic and protestant traditions weave together and influence how we edify one another through the scriptural truths we learned as children. You should all be so blessed to have a "Lanny" to sharpen your wits and better your ken.
Such has entwined through this lovely season we call Advent.