Advent Reflections and Menus
What is Advent, and why should we care?
If you look up the word Advent in Roget’s Thesaurus, Advent falls near the end, on the next to last page. The Thesaurus lists Advent under the heading, “Religious Rites,” and groups it with Christian holy days, as is appropriate. But why is it at the end? And why is Advent listed only under “Rites”? Aren’t last rites the things you give to the dying? Shouldn’t there be a listing at the beginning of the Thesaurus? TS Eliot in 1927 wrote a poem, “Journey of the Magi,” in which his wise man asks, “were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”
We live in a world in which commerce bids us to be happy. We’re advised to buy or get on credit everything we want on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and the however many days we have left for free shipping before the Big Day. Yet we also dwell in a world of despair, of desolation, and, yes, of death that our commercialized cheer doesn’t illuminate. We know that we don’t always live as we should and as God wants. And in Advent we wait, in exile, in darkness, in pain, in longing, in hope, and in anticipation of the coming of the light—our unmerited redemption through grace, made manifest in a birth.
If you look on bookstore and library shelves, you’ll see plenty of books that offer tips to make December “the best season ever” and that provide “everything you could wish for” to make your life and your Christmas “easy and enjoyable.” Believe me, I’ve checked through those books. Magazines, too. Then there's Pinterest. Oh, my goodness. Perfection through pictures. Except it isn't. The reality is that the books, magazines, and Pinterest have nice pictures of decorations and even great recipes, but that’s all. The contents of the books, magazines, and many websites haven’t brought me comfort and joy, nor have they made me content, no matter which entertaining tips and recipes I’ve tried. I need more than happy pictures, coordinated wrapping paper, a glittering table, and a super-juicy turkey with all the trimmings. I suspect other people do, too.
In the coming postings for December, we'll try to offer you more—via reflections on the scripture and on the meaning of Advent. When marketing efforts increase our worries, the pressure to decorate, feed, entertain, and buy gifts builds, and the holiday lights look more annoying than sparkling, isn’t that what we really seek? Something that will nourish our souls, not just our bodies?
Because this also is a website about feeding people--body as well as soul--we'll provide recipes for the days of Advent. Our focus will be on posting simple, great tasting recipes that you can enjoy throughout the season without breaking your budget or being a gourmet chef. We'll try to use foods that are readily available. Many of the foods will fit within the guidelines of SNAP, which is the largest US nutrition assistance program focused on reducing domestic hunger. We'll also concentrate on using ingredients that are low-fat, low-calorie (relatively speaking), not too salty, and, in a season of excess, pretty good for you.
So, for the coming days of Advent, we'll try to offer you at least two postings each day--one reflection on the scripture and another posting with a menu for the day. Yes, it would be nice if you read the scripture and reflection each day, but, no, you we don't expect you to prepare each menu each day. The menus are only suggestions. The idea is to help you find ways to feed your body and especially your soul more simply and abundantly—to truly celebrate Advent. As the words of the hymn say,
"Love came down at Christmas!"
"Love incarnate! Love divine!"