Day 10 of Advent: Advent Movie List

As the days get shorter and the weather outside is sometimes “frightful,” how about plan a movie night or two with an Advent or Christmas theme?  I am going to go out on a limb here and not include some of our favorites like “Its a Wonderful Life” and dig deep for some movies you may not have thought about.  Here is a list of the 10 that I will be watching this Advent season.

1.  The Shop Around the Corner, 1940

2.  While you were Sleeping, 1995

3.  Love Actually, 2003

4.  The Christmas Box, 1995

5.  The Holiday, 2006

6.  Timepiece, 1996

7.  The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992

8.  The Polar Express, 2004

9.  Nativity, 2009

10.  Joyeux Noel, 2005

Feel free to add your favorite movie to the list by posting a comment to the blog.  I know you will share some wonderful movies to watch this season of Advent!

Marcie Doll

Day 9 of Advent: Feeding the Soul and Body

During Advent, I like to serve comfort food. While the Miso in this recipe is optional, if you do use, you’ll find it adds a wonderful, rather mysterious, taste to this dish. It’s an umami sort of mystery. Try it. I bought my Miso from Amazon.

Butternut Squash Mash

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil or coconut oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

One butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces*

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 to 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Miso (optional)

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  • Melt the oil with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot (if you have one, use ceramic).
  • Add the squash and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the squash just barely begins to brown.
  • Now add the garlic and sage and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water.
  • Cover the pan and let the squash steam in the water for about 20 minutes.
  • Check after 10 minutes and add more water if it seems dry.
  • Now put the squash and liquid into a food processor or Vitamix with the rest of the butter. Add the optional Miso (highly recommended) and process until smooth and airy.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. Ad more butter or cream if you want it thinner.

Another “mash” that I’ve also served with holiday roasts is the following:

Broccoli Mash

Ingredients

3 large broccoli crowns, cut into small florets

1 large , 1 medium russet potato, cut into 1 or 2 inch dice

2 Tb butter

2 Tsp dried thyme

¼ cup heavy cream (optional)

Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Peel the potatoes, cut them into  1 or 2 inch chunks and add them to a large pot of boiling water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and boil until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes
  • Roughly chop the the broccoli crowns into small florets. Place in a steamer over a pot of simmering water and steam covered for 10 to 12 minutes until broccoli is soft and well done. The color is likely to be an unattractive green.
  • When the potatoes and broccoli are done, place in a Vita mix or food processor. Add the butter and cream and puree until thoroughly mixed and there are no chunks or particles remaining.
  • Serves 4-6

Joyce West

Day 8 of Advent: A time to prepare for the Mystery of Christmas

Using the Godly Play curriculum, we prepare the children for the arrival of Jesus in a series of lessons called “The Mystery of Christmas.” They learn of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, of the barn where He is born, of the star which leads the shepherds and of the animals who were there to receive Him. But the look on the children’s face when they learn about the cow who went to his feed box for food and instead found Jesus is priceless. The cow’s expression turns from bewilderment to joy.

That morning in a barn a gift was given to all… A gift of grace for all to share. May we too experience the birth of Christ in awe and wonder as the cow did and as my children do!

Merry Christmas! 

Sandy Diaz

Day 7 of Advent: It Begins with the Manger

Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said Light.

Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said Peace.

Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said Love.

So he,
the Lord of Light,
the Prince of Peace,
the King of Love
came down and crept in beside us.
Cloth for the Cradle,
Wild Goose Worship Group

“The greatest journeys are the ones that take you home.”
The Namesake

The Word became flesh; he dwelt among us. He, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, and the King of Love, took up residence with us. He became our Emmanuel–God with us. He who once claimed heaven as home willingly and purposefully made the journey to earth. In doing so he gave us a sense of what home–our present home and our future home–entails.

As I ventured through department stores last week, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” echoed in my ears, and I began to sing and another part of me began to weep. You know the song, and I imagine that for many of you it has stirred some of the same emotions. Let’s sing it together:

I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

The line that always gets my attention in that song is “where the love-light gleams.” That’s really what home is, a place where the King of Love enters in and reminds us of the love he has shown us and the love we are to show to others.

Christmas and home are two terms that seem to go together. But what does home mean, and why does it become so poignant during the holidays? Some define home as a place; for others it is a feeling, for others an awareness that we have people to whom we belong.

We have all heard the phrase, “Home is where the heart is.” We hear “home” and “Christmas” and it generates a longing to be with those we love, or a longing for what we wished home could have been. It brings back memories both good and bad–it reminds us once again of those who are no longer home with us, and of places that are no longer considered home. Home and holidays often mean travel, high expectations, fanciful ideals, and sometimes hopes that don’t come true.

But what if we began to understand home from Christ’s perspective?

As I reflect on the desire to be home for the holidays, I am reminded of the journey that Mary and Joseph took to get to their own hometown. Luke writes, “And everyone went to their own hometown to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David” (2:3-4, NIV, emphasis mine). Is that not what home really is–a place to belong?

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were in essence homeless, without a place to stay. Because of the hospitality of the innkeeper, a stable became a home to Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and of course the sheep. For in that place they found belonging, they found warmth, they found the miracle of life in the birth of a babe who left his heavenly home and dwelt among us.

As we create in our minds an image of home, perhaps it begins at the manger. It is the place that reminds us that it is not purely in the beauty of our surroundings where we find home, but in those places that bring forth new life, new hope, new promise, everlasting joy, and the awareness that the God of the universe crept in beside us and showed us love.

This Christmas as you are on your journey to the manger, my prayer is that you experience a journey that brings you closer to home and to the place where Christ lives, loves, and calls you his own. May the love-light gleam as you experience Christ’s radiance this season.

Reverend Kirsty DePree

Day 6 of Advent: “Holy is His Name”

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
And my spirit exalts in God my Savior.
For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness;
And my name will be forever exalted.
For the mighty God has done great things for me,
And His mercy will reach from age to age.

Holy, holy, holy is His name.

“Holy Is His Name” by John Michael Talbot

This refrain plays repeatedly in my head during the Christmas season. I don’t remember when I first heard it, I don’t even remember the last time I listened to the recording (we had the record when I was a child), I do, however, remember singing it one time at my Uncle’s log cabin in central Wisconsin while doing the holiday dishes. And my mother sang along. She has a beautiful voice and I love harmonizing with her. Years back, well before my parents were divorced, they used to sing together. My dad playing the guitar and mom harmonizing, it seemed like the absolutely perfect thing for a couple to do together and made me feel completely safe. When my parents divorced it felt like I would never have that sense of comfort and warmth again in my life. But, by the grace of God, I do. I have new traditions, including Christmas with my in-laws; a three-day celebration with nights by the fireplace, big dinners, and quizzes solved by family and friends. And still this song runs through my mind filling me with love and hope and thanks. It reminds me of the sacrifices my mother made for me and my siblings as we were growing up. It reminds me of the dreams that I have for the future. It reminds me that no matter what, I have always been taken care of. His mercy does reach from age to age and it encompasses me, and you.

Anna Nugent

Day 5 of Advent: Putting the Christ Back into the Christmas Season

Last year, I joined a small prayer group called the Advent Conspiracy at church.  I was intrigued about the topic, as I am not a “conspiracy theory” kind of person.  I really liked the mission of the Advent Conspiracy:  “It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.”

I started following Advent Conspiracy on Facebook and downloaded the App.  This was something that could help me be more focused on the real meaning of Christmas this year and in the years to come.

Here are the goals of the Advent Conspiracy:

1.  Worship Fully

2.  Spend Less

3.  Give More

4.  Love All

What changed last year for me in Advent?  Last December, my life was in a season of transition with my job changing and an impending move early in January.  I should have been overly stressed.  But somehow, following the Advent Conspiracy goals helped me to focus on the awe of the Advent season.  I found more opportunities to give of my time and my gifts.  I tried to be more loving in my relationships and in my dealings with people around me everyday.  It made a huge difference for me.

“Christmas can still change the world!”  Maybe the Advent Conspiracy could help you with your Advent journey….

Advent Conspiracy

Marcie Doll

Day 4 of Advent: The Work of Advent

“Now I am revealing new things to you

Things hidden and unknown to you

Created just now, this very moment.

Of these things you have heard nothing until now.

So that you cannot say, Oh yes, I knew this.”

Isaiah 48:6-7 from “The Artist’s Rule” by Christine Valters  Painter

Blessings on the work of Advent in your life… in all its newness, and in all its unfamiliarity.   Are we waiting for Advent… or, sometimes… is it waiting for us?

Day 3 of Advent: Random Acts of Kindness

This Advent season, Marble’s staff member Ashley Johnson will be posting an online Advent Calendar: 24 Random Acts of Kindness. Follow her journey of doing little things to give back every day on Facebook.  And if you are inspired to do so, join in and let us know on our Facebook page Marble Collegiate Church  https://www.facebook.com/marblechurchnyc how your journey is going!

“Becoming a mother this year made me think about traditions that I want to begin, or continue, with my little one as he grows older and begins to understand the season. I wanted to find something we could do to grow together as a family. Teaching him about empathy towards others and being kind is an important lesson and one I need to remind myself of sometimes. Inspired by a Pinterest post I pinned when I was curating Marble’s Christmas board, I decided to make an Advent calendar that instead of getting or being introspective, made me think and grow by doing and giving. It didn’t need to be full of big gestures, just something small and doable, a butterfly flap of the wing that could perhaps create a bigger change for someone else and maybe even me.

You are welcome to participate along with me as I pull a directive for a new act of kindness out of the Advent calendar on my door each day until Christmas. I’ll be photo documenting and sharing my journey on Facebook and I hope that you’ll join me in this and share your experiences and photos with me of how your 24 acts of kindness unfold over Advent. I’m excited to share how I hope to be making a small difference and I look forward to hearing from you on how you decide to fulfill the suggested action selected each day!”

-Ashley Johnson

In keeping with the season, it’s nice to be reminded that in little acts of kindness, we can make a big difference in someone’s day.

Day 2 of Advent: What are you waiting for?

“Advent” is from the word “to come,” and while it is a reminder of the coming of Jesus into the world, then and now, this season also asks to look into our hearts and to ask:  What is coming into our lives? Where is the longing?

There is ground in all of us that needs to be prepared for whatever new is coming.  Advent calls us to the work of receptivity… of emptying out.   In the story of the Annunciation, the angel coming to Mary with astounding news, she “makes room,” literally and metaphorically, for new life, for surprise, for an upending of life as she knew it.

One of the paradoxes of Advent is that it asks us to be open and receptive, to make room…and it also has a theme of waiting, of preparation.  For many of us, none of these inner and outer tasks are easy… but to do them at the same time?  That can seem particularly hard.

Advent’s invitations will be different for each of us.  Maybe the first step is to become aware of some of these summonses… and to ponder in your heart where you are asked to co-create with God during this season of surprise.

Some questions to get you started:

Do you know what you are waiting for, if anything, at this time in your life?  The Advent season is both inner and outer… your soul may have a surprising answer if you ask it:  “What are we waiting for, hoping for….”   Try journaling on this during Advent this year.

My hunch is, we are not called to wait for the same old, same old.  In waiting itself is a call, a need for openness—perhaps radical openness.

What gestation, that can’t be rushed, are you waiting for?  Where do you need to enter the crucible of your own life, or the life of another, or a place of need in the world?

What do you need to clear out… to make room for what?

As you wait, can you at the same time be open to surprise?  Advent, like all the mysterious church seasons, has many aspects, and can bring both shadow and light.  And sometimes what we receive in these times is not what we hoped for, but something else.  When this happens, Advent waiting rests on our response, our prayerful reaction to the unimaginably new.

One of my favorite translations of this Isaiah verse speaks to me of Advent:

“It isn’t always about amassing things or receiving accolades. Jesus taught that the essence of happy living is Love – knowing how to receive it and how to extend it. “This  is My commandment, that you love one another.” Love and Joy are inextricably bound.” –Dr. Brown

Nina H. Frost

First Day of Advent

Advent is a season of preparation; expectant waiting to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Wikipedia defines the term as an Anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.

Sometimes, I wonder how we ‘ring in’ Advent as compared to Christmas with all the ‘busyness’ responding to commercial ads thrown at us on a daily basis. I recall how advent was celebrated in a culture where I grew up as a child and teenager so many, many years ago. I try to compare the celebration of Advent with our culture In the States.

We got ourselves prepared spiritually as a family. We turned to the Word. Without all the distractions of the American Holiday Extravaganza, we were able to focus a bit more on what Advent meant to us as Christians. Reading what the prophets foretold about the coming of the Messiah always paved the way for a deeper understanding about what it meant to ‘expect’.  We were reminded that as we waited we should look for His presence in our daily lives – not the future but right now because of the certainty of His return. I feel exceptionally blessed having had the privilege to have experienced and shared the Advent season with families and friends in so many. The tradition is universal.

Agatha Pratt