“We’ll welcome December with tireless hope.” This lyric from Sleeping at Last’s song “Snow” strikes me with resonance at the turn into December every year. My Facebook memories are full of sweet messages from eight years ago and two years ago, both remembering friends and family who joined their Savior in glory this week. The darkness sets in earlier and earlier each day—and yet…the lights shine on the tree and the darkness cannot overcome them. I do not welcome December with tireless hope because of some saccharine, candy-cane sweetness. I do it because I’m looking forward to the promised Hope of the world, whose birth we celebrate this month.
Around the Web
How to Not let Loss or Grief or Division Steal Your Merry Christmas This Year
Anne Voskamp reminds us that there’s a Love that holds us all together.
- This old guy had said that there’s a Love that holds this whole shebang together —
even when, especially when, everything & everyone feels a bit banged & busted up.
He’d turned & said just that to me, right there in the airport terminal, a few years back, and I never forgot it, what the guy said.
We were both just sitting there on those blue vinyl seats, looking up at the news flashing loud across the screen they had hanging from the ceiling there at Gate G21, like the whole world was suspended right there in this waiting.
In this painful, expecting waiting and the piped in Christmas carols trying to drown out the news.
Someone told me that this Advent has felt more like a Lent — a grieving.
Mathematics Coram Deo
Karen Harris looks at the ways mathematics points us to healing and order.
- Through repentance one begins to learn the beauty of mathematics, and that process brings order and freedom. J.R.R. Tolkein said, “The essence of education is repentance.” It seems that, among other educational disciplines, the process of learning mathematics is uniquely humbling. One begins, teacher or student, with the humiliation of ignorance – I do not know what to do, nor how to do it. We naturally fight against anything that reveals either what we do not know or what we cannot understand.
Bookish Christmas Fun
Betsy at Redeemed Reader has 12 days of Christmas books for us!
- Are you looking ahead to a Christmas that doesn’t involve extra family and friends as much as previous years’ celebrations? Perhaps you usually travel, but this year you’ll be home.
We know that Christmas vacation may look a little … empty this year. We spend a lot of time before Christmas meditating on Advent and looking ahead to celebrating the Incarnation. But the days just after Christmas?
All Moms Need to Do is Remain
Maggie Combs reminds us what it means to “abide.”
- Only God knows the number of hairs on my head and the number of times I have told my kids to stay near me in a parking lot. It’s one of my least favorite parts of motherhood. My boys are too old for me to insist that they hold my hand, yet too young for me to trust them to navigate a busy parking lot without my safe presence. When we exit the car into the dangerous minefield of our church parking lot on Sunday morning, I insist that they remain near me. Don’t get too far ahead! We need to look both ways. People can’t see you! Don’t dawdle! Surrounded by distracted drivers, I know that the safest thing for my boys to do is remain with me.
Around the Warren
Laura Weymouth reminds us of the wonder of a sanctuary.
- There’s something about an empty church sanctuary. In the absence of Sunday morning busyness, you can better feel what it is at its heart. A place meant for safety, and holiness. A place meant to elevate us beyond the stresses and trials of everyday life, to remind us that we are loved, abundantly welcome, and offered transcendent grace at every turn.
Subcreating with Tolkien: Artist Emily Austin
Christine Norvell interviews artist Emily Austin.
- The idylls of fantasy fiction have long inspired artists of every genre, perhaps none as much as J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien’s prose invites us to imagine, inhabit, and revel in his created worlds. Even more fascinating is that Tolkien’s own sketches and watercolors would sate an archive. He kept childhood drawings, illustrations for his books, drawings for his own children, original calligraphy, and cartography for Middle Earth. He filled scraps of paper with doodles and carefully tucked prized creations into special envelopes which he opened periodically to add captions to years later. His creativity was and is contagious.
All Creation Waits
Helena Sorensen points us to a powerful Advent devotional for families.
- One of my favorite discoveries, on entering the liturgical tradition, was the celebration of Advent. I was delighted to learn that dark December days and the light of a simple candle were heavy with meaning. In Advent, I found not a nebulous season of festivity ending in the anti-climax of Christmas morning, but a sacred waiting that leads to a twelve-day celebration of God’s presence. It’s what I always hoped the holidays could be.
The Littlest Watchman: Anticipating Christmas
Carolyn Leiloglou reviews Scott James’ picture book.
- The Christmas story is amazing, isn’t it? God wrapped himself in flesh and emerged into the world as a helpless baby. He was totally dependent, yet with a mission to save the world He created.
Something to Do with Your Kids
Need some recommendations for how to spend the long December evenings? Here are some fun family activity suggestions tailored for this month.
Something to Watch
One of my favorite bands, The Gray Havens, did a livestream concert this week to celebrate Christmas. The video is still up and completely worth watching!
Thanks for reading. We’re on your side.
-The Story Warren Team