December 15, 2012

I Will Wait by Katie Bogner

 So what does Mumford & Sons have to do with Advent? Read on for my spin on the Advent Season, and enjoy a good song in the meantime!
It will come as no shock to anyone when I comment that we are a culture that is impatient. We like instant gratification, think we can do everything better by ourselves, and imagine that we can control our own futures. We do not like to wait.
So how do we as the faithful live and celebrate in a season that is about waiting? I love hearing about how different households wait during the season of Advent. There are so many ways to use special family traditions that encourage a mindset of waiting for the Lord. As a single woman, I have struggled in the past to participate in the season of Advent. Being the only one in my household, it is hard to have many of the Advent traditions that lots of Catholic families have. I don’t make the Wise Men travel from room to room before landing in my Nativity Scene on Epiphany. My Advent Wreath candles don’t get lit each night as the family sits down to dinner- my goal is to at least light them on Sunday afternoons during my prayer time. I don’t have any special traditions for all of the awesome December Saints, like Lucia, Juan Diego, and Nicholas.
I celebrate Advent in my church, and I celebrate it in my classroom, so how can I actively wait with joy in my home and heart?
My perspective on Advent changed a few years ago when I stumbled across this verse:
“I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in Him.”~Isaiah 8:17
I love the Old Testament, and this verse helped me to see that during the season of Advent, we are united with God’s people across generations. We wait with Eve after she was promised that a seed would come from her that would crush the head of Satan. We wait with women like Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel for the birth of a long-desired child. We wait with David for an heir to reign on his throne forever. And, we wait with Mary for the coming of her Son.

If we can bring our waiting to be united with Mary, we can also look to her as a model. Before the visit from Gabriel, Mary waited with her people for the promised Messiah, and then waited nine months while she carried Him within her. She waited as he grew and played in their home and waited as she watched Him during His public ministry. She waited while they sentenced Him to death and waited at the foot of the Cross. She waited with her new children, the Church, for his Resurrection. And now she waits in Heaven with Him for the time when all of God’s plan will be complete.
I can wait with Mary. I can wait like her with patience (Luke 2:19), prayer (Luke 1:476-55), and service (Luke 1:39-41).
So that is my goal, during Advent and for all other things that I wait for-patience, prayer, and service.
How does that practically play out in my life?
I try to step up my prayer during Advent, and find something good to center my spiritual reading around. This year I am reading Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Pope John Paul II by John V. Kruse. I also make it a goal to more frequently receive the Sacraments during Advent. I love meditating and reading about the O Antiphons in the last week before Christmas.

I love decorating for the seasons, so during Advent I try to hold myself back. I put out my Advent Wreath and partial Nativity on the First Sunday of Advent. On the Second Sunday of Advent, I get out a few more decorations- add more things to the Nativity, wreath on the door, my Grandma’s antique Christmas Balls on the table, some garland, etc. For the Third Sunday of Advent, I will get out my tree, put on the lights and ornaments and have the Nativity complete except for Baby Jesus. All of the other little touches are put out during the Fourth Week, which makes the month of December lead like a crescendo to Christmas Day. My home is an outward expression of my heart, and this helps me to remember Advent and be ready to celebrate Christmas.
I spend my days working with lots of kids, both in my job as a Catholic school teacher and as the Director of Religious Education at my parish. I do my best to encourage patience, prayer, and service during Advent with the kids. I make sure to give out items like Advent calendars and Scriptural count down chains for them to take home. We have discussions and do projects about how God’s people waited for a Messiah and how Christ fulfilled all prophecies. We have fun with the Saints that lead us to lives like Christ. We have family celebrations about Advent, not just to celebrate Christmas. We decorate with purple and pink, not red and green. We do service projects and collections for those in our community and far away.
And finally, why name this post after a Mumford & Sons song?
Music plays a big role in the course of my day, and I have found that it isn’t helpful for me to listen to Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving. I have two separate itunes playlists, one for Advent and one for Christmas. The Christmas playlist has got everything you could imagine in it, and that one is broken out starting on Gaudete Sunday and runs with me through the entire season of Christmas. The Advent playlist has some “Christmas”music, like O Come, O Come Emmanuel and others, but it also has a lot of other non-seasonal Christian music that reminds me waiting for a Savior, such as My Savior’s Love Endures by JJ Heller, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Christy Nockels, Make Us Ready by Harvest Bashta, Come Thou Fount by Sara Groves. I also love to throw in other nontraditional music that reminds me of the emphasis of the season like the YouTube video above. Take a gander at the beginning of the lyrics:
And I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of darkness
Which we’ve known
Will blow away with this new sun
And I’ll kneel down
Wait for now
And I’ll kneel down
Know my ground
And I will wait, I will wait for you…
So with this song running through my head, Mary’s inspiration in my actions, and hope in my heart, I will continue to wait to celebrate this Christmas, to wait to see God’s plan come to fulfillment in my life, and to wait for Him to come again.
I will wait.

Katie Bogner is who I want to be when I grow up.  I mean, this lady has got her act together.  After taking a year off work to serve and pray, Katie is now teaching a group of very lucky Catholic middle schoolers and working as her parish's youth group leader and DRE.  She is super duper crafty, has gorgeous blonde hair, and is L's godmother.  A recent recipent of the Diocese of Peoria's Pere Marquette Award, Katie blogs at Look to Him and Be Radiant.  You can find all kinds of activities to do with your youth group, middle schoolers, and little kids under her Sharing the Faith tab.

For more posts on Advent traditions and reflections check out the Advent series.

1 comment:

  1. I want to be Katie when I grow up, too. She's that awesome. :)