For the past several years, I've been so very blessed by invitations to present at, sing at or simply participate in Advent offerings hosted by parish groups in our area called Mothers and Children (MACH 1).
Now that I've experienced these pre-Advent events, I never want to go back! They are the most peaceful, lovely way to ease into the season of Advent.
The evening includes treats, Scripture readings and reflection, a presentation of some kind that typically involves a meditation on Advent, and song.
Each table host sets up a unique setting...
And serves a dessert of her choice. At this year's program, our sweet host, Julie, brought a chocolate cake and M&Ms. Nothing like chocolate to soothe your soul.
After a prayer and welcome, Jill and I sang the first song, which was also the evening's theme: "Sacred Silence." What a privilege to be able to launch the music and help prepare the hearts of the women attending for what would follow!
During the welcome, Mary Kay mentioned that Advent isn't so much a time for us to prepare for Christmas, but for us to be prepared, to be readied. I love how just a slight word change can make all the difference.
Are we looking at Advent as the build-up to Christmas, to scurry around and get loads of things done? Or seeing it as a time when Jesus prepares our hearts for what He wants to offer us?
The very talented Melissa accompanied Jill and me on piano. She also sang a beautiful song, "Blessings" (I'll include a link at the end) while playing piano, and she gave the presentation/meditation. Her gentle voice was as welcoming as the words themselves.
Melissa reminded us that "woman is she who receives love in order to give love in return." What a thought-provoking line. "It takes great courage and great strength to open ourselves up to receiving Christ's love, because Christ's love is so powerful that it changes us from the inside out," she said.
She asked some tough questions for us to ponder, such as "What wouldn't you do for the love of your child? Your husband?" and "What habits won't you sacrifice for the love of Christ?"
We have to ask ourselves these questions, she said, "because it is our part, as women, to witness to the world what receiving love looks like."
It is out part as women to witness to what receiving love looks like.
That is the thought I am going to carry into my Advent. We have a beautiful opportunity, as women, to shine Christ's love in a way that only we can do. What a privilege.
So, are you ready? It's almost time.
God bless you as you are readied for Advent, and as you await the gift the Lord has chosen specifically for you this Christmas season!
And the story behind her song: Blessings story...
Copyright 2012 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com