28 11 2011

The rain is pouring side, Deon is at a work function and the generator is waiting for petrol.  The candles are flickering and as the rain drops fall I begin to get a sense of Christmas.

There is very little of the hype around Christmas that abounds in other wealthier countries: there are some festive garlands in Kampala but there is little to show that it is heading for Christmas time here, so it was quite a shock when I received an sms yesterday morning saying the snow was falling for first Advent in Sweden, where Andrew lives.

I grew up with a wonderful excitement for Advent, with strong Swedish cultural practices particularly around Christmas time.  Advent is a celebration and preparation leading up to Christmas, and there are several ways to spend this time.  This year for my nieces I made (recycled, of course!) advent calendars, with 3 little notes for each day: one is a verse to meditate on, having something to do with the coming of Jesus.  The second was a joke for Christmas, typical kid humour (I found these on a site somewhere) and then a random act of kindness to do each day.   (please send me a message if you would like me to send you these word docs I put together.)

I have seen it done in some churches but it is not typically South African (there is too much sunshine to really appreciate it!) but it is definitely so Swedish:  candle sticks with four candles are pulled out four Sundays before Christmas, and each Sunday a new candle is lit, so that a sloped effect is reached by the time Christmas is near.  It is a lovely tangible way to see the time approaching, and we would get together for Sunday fika (coffee) and spend the time together, taking delight in lighting the next candle in the row.

As I did not pack one of my SEVERAL candle holders, I had to make a plan in a rush yesterday – so off to Mbale Shoppers to see what I could adapt for use.  A cheapy little plastic plate and a pack of  4 gold candles worked as a basis, then after a bit of trial and error Deon and I figured to use bottle caps fixed to the plate with a glue gun.  A bit of nature brought in from the garden, this and that pulled closer and our first advent coffee felt rather special with a great mix of Swedish and African – Kung Oskars Pepparkakor and gifflar (Wonderful treats from cousin); banana bread and rooibos tea… and a heart getting ready and making space for the coming.

These lines from the old Christmas hymn capture the prayer of my heart:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I pray that Emmanuel, God come to visit man, would really come.  Bring light into sin darkened hearts, to people blinded to true light and life, and end death. 

The rain that is falling tonight is part of an ongoing pattern here in the last little while:  last week the rains disrupted classes and caused difficulties for many.  One lady in my class had her house collapse (from what I can make out – I have not seen her) because the house was built badly.  She is now finding shelter with friends.  For her, I pray Come, Emmanuel. 

I walked to the market that burned down a few weeks back.(Ashes and seeds)  Shelters have been built, and people were sitting huddled in their prospective spaces, waiting –  I do not know how long they were waiting, what they were waiting for.  Sarah said that there has been a lot of money changing hands which is not right.  Corruption is common practice here.  Money does not reach those who need it most.  Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel.

My heart yearns for people to really pray with for the needs of this place.  There is so much darkness, so many gloomy clouds of night.  I know the Messiah longs to bring wholeness, truth and restoration.  But I believe He will only come if clearly invited to do so and if people called by His name will stand proxy for those who cannot pray.  Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel. 

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might…
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

I long to stand with Ugandans and those from every tribe to sing and  Rejoice! Rejoice!

Some of the last words of the Bible ring out – he says– who is testifying these things — `Yes, I come quickly!’ Amen! Yes, be coming, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20   Young’s Literal Translation (YLT))

I love that.  There is the promise of His coming.  And then the continuous tense – be coming.  Every day.  In every way.  Be coming,  Lord Jesus.


Thanks roundup from the last week:

vivid pink bougainvillea and purple jacarandas seen from aerial views.

flying over a volcano.

banana leaf huts with hammocks.

ocean breezes.

blonde children enjoying snow white beach sand.

turquoise ocean turning to teal.

getting back my suitcase with all contents.

celebrating advent wherever I am.




One response

29 11 2011

As I read your post I couldn’t help but think it might be refreshing to live in a place that wasn’t overrun by Christmas hype. Your advent arrangement is wonderful!

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