Advent—The writing below is from a 2011 post on a previous blog that I wrote when I was newly worshipping with the liturgical calendar in “the Anglican way”…

Photo of our Jessamine farm front yard on the first snow of 2020

Hule and I have decided to do more this year for Advent. That’s new for me. Lent had been new for me the last few years: not the concept of Lent—just the idea that it’s more than the horrific prospect of no chocolate for 40 days! In a similar way, the concept of Advent is not new to me, it has just mostly been a time for slick purple and pink candles in crunchy Styrofoam wreaths, opening little calendar doors each day, a countdown of shopping days ‘till presents, cookie baking and tree decorating. So, being a virtual “nubie” at Advent and an information junkie—I went to the stacks. (Thank you Richland County Public Library.)

I checked out about a dozen books on Advent and have been reading the Advent Lessons and Carols Scriptures for this year: Genesis 2 & 3, Isaiah 7 & 53, Luke 1 & 2, Hebrews 1 and John 1. I’m finding that Advent is a time of waiting for the Messiah—the fruition of all of the Messianic promises. Wait, Prepare, Rejoice, Love are the 4 “watchwords”.[1] This week is about waiting. Ireton informed me that: “In Hebrew, the word for wait is also the word for hope.” (Ireton 2008, 22)

Hope has been one of my special words lately–one I’ve thought about a lot. Hope=Esperanza in Spanish; the name I would give myself if I could rename me. It seems there are two kinds of hope. One is a hope in people: fallible humans. This hope is less sure. This hope has the capability of disappointing. “I hope he will do what he said.” “I hope she will make it.” It implies some sort of trust, some kind of vulnerability, but the open-endedness of not being certain. Secondly there is hope in God. If we cannot hope in God, in whom can we hope? This is a more certain hope—a hope that does not disappoint. Here, once one believes God is true and good and all-powerful, then hope feels more like waiting, and our hope is in that we heard his promise correctly, discerned rightly, what he meant when he said in Isaiah (about 735 years before Christ came[2]): Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. In Isaiah 7:14b Immanuel means God with us. God doesn’t mind making us hope a long time—wait for many years. Just as we wait now for Christ’s second coming! And so, part of Advent is to put myself back in that time between 735 B.C. and C.

C=Christ is here!!! Christmas!! Wahoo!!!

I’ll have to admit that it takes a little pretending to wait—hope—for the Messiah when I know he has already come. It’s like Good Friday when we mourn for Christ’s death but we really know he will rise again. I guess it’s also like watching a really sad movie the 2nd time around: crying, hoping, fingernail biting is not the same when you know it will end well.

And so this week, I wait… I hope… for GOD WITH US!!!


[1]Ireton, Kimberlee Conway. The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
[2] Thank you ESV Study Bible footnotes

Our Jessamine Garden

Today I heave a sigh as I see three new ears of corn sitting on the washer.  Like the trophy voles our cat used to leave on our doorstep, my husband has brought in 3 new gifts from the garden.

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Weeks ago we were delighting in our first ears.  I carefully shucked and cleaned them and took pictures of the miraculous cobs.

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Last year we mourned that either the deer, coons, or our neighbors’ wandering pigs had eaten every ear before our first harvest, so I read up on gardening websites and Pinterest about how to keep animals from chowing down on our produce before we could.  I planted my squash vines around the periphery because apparently it is reported that raccoons don’t like to bother themselves with stepping through the vines to get to the dainty nectarous morsels…. Slovenly coons!  I also read about putting out pie tins to toss around in the wind and scare away the critters…. We did that too.  We read about putting duct tape over each ear to keep the varmints from banqueting on our harvest, but that seemed extreme and not very “organic” so I didn’t pursue that option.  My husband made a makeshift scarecrow, which sounds good, but it was a pretty pitiful example of one and when I saw my neighbor’s example down Handys Bend, I felt a ting of scarecrow-envy.  I set an old Ale-8 hat on the freezer and suggested to my husband that it be added to the effigy, but it never was. There was another suggestion which we kind of tried which I don’t care to delineate here, but if you ever saw the movie Never Cry Wolf you might get the idea…. Lastly, I planted tall corn varieties which others said would make it hard for little coon paws to reach.  Part of our strategy was to harvest early, as soon as the kernels seemed ready, so as not to tempt the apparent menagerie out there gathering with drooling tongues every night–but I will admit that we have eaten a few “preemie” ears as a consequence.

Corn is in my blood.  We used to play in the big corn cob bin at Grandpa’s farm from which they fed the pigs.  I’m an Illinois girl raised in a town surrounded by corn and everybody knows that corn fresh from the garden is better than anything bought at the store, so I had motivation enough to try.

Another inspiration for our corn nursery was from Wendell Berry, one of my favorite writers.  He is from Kentucky and is also a gardener and farmer. Our land adjoins the Kentucky River as does his and it is fun to think, in maybe a neighborly way,  if I floated a message in a bottle upstream from our property, since the KY flows north instead of south, he could retrieve my note from the shore outside his “long-legged” writing cabin.    The Mad Farmer Poems are wonderful and  one of those poems, “A Man born to Farming”, was inscribed on my chalkboard as soon as we moved onto our farm.  Below I quote part of the poem:

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,

whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,

to him the soil is a divine drug.  He enters into death

yearly, and comes back rejoicing.  He has seen the light lie down

in the dung heap and rise again in the corn.

His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.

What miraculous seed has he swallowed…

So I buried miraculous seeds with my own hands reaching into our Maury silt loam and sat back awaiting God’s light to rest among the rows and His rain to quench the parch…which they did.  Like a zygote in a woman’s uterus, the kernel with endosperm and an embryo inside of cotyledon, radicle and coleoptile, was implanted.  Then comes the monocot, leaflets unfurled; stalks, leaves, ears with silks, tassels follow.  It’s a slow-motion enchantment to observe.  Finally comes the picking, shucking, de-silking, boiling, buttering, serving, gracing, reaching, biting, tasting. MMMMMMMmmmmmm.

When God made us and put us in the garden as our home, he assigned our primarily given occupation.  It was pre-fall that our hands belonged in the soil:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 (NIV)

As the weeks of harvest have rolled on, I’ll admit that I have lessened in my enthusiasm somewhat.  Isn’t this the way of humans?  But my husband came in from a walk out back excited that he had seen a 10 point buck heading toward our field up front where the garden is.  Part of me sighed, but the other part wanted to shout out to our guest,

“Come on ahead, we’ve set the table for you. Feast!”

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Perhaps that’s how Adam and Eve felt in their garden too?