Advent Shawl CAL: Week One

Thanksgiving, as a holiday, is now behind us. Yet we continue to offer thanks every day and especially as we turn now to anticipate the celebration of Christ’s coming! To facilitate our anticipation and preparation for this event, we are starting a series of stitches. You may read the first blog post about this idea HERE if you are just now joining in. Crocheting through Advent will offer us time to slow down in the midst of the holiday hubbub and make thoughtful stitches. Each week contains instructions for a section of the Advent Shawl that reflects the topic of Advent for the upcoming week. Notice that we are starting a week in advance of the actual Sunday of Advent, so that we can have our Shawls finished for wearing on Christmas or gifting to another. I have chosen stitch patterns that reflect, in order, the topics for each week.

The first candle of Advent is the Prophecy Candle. I chose an open fan or shell stitch as this portrays the radiating rays of the prophetic foretelling of Christ’s coming to save His people. Generation after generation remembered, recalled and passed on the promise of a coming King, a Messiah, whom God would send to His people. Like the rays of the sun, these prophecies reached through hundreds of years, to be realized on that night in Bethlehem long ago. As we stitch, we remember and recount the plan God had in mind all along, to send His one and only Son Jesus to ย work salvation for us. Our hearts are kindled by the knowledge of God’s faithfulness through the unfolding and intricate plan He orchestrated in every detail.

The following Reflection is for any who wish to have further reflection for this week’s stitching. I have written it here for your reading enjoyment. And you can also listen to me read these thoughts to you as you stitch, if you like. I am so very glad you have chosen to come along with me in our journey of anticipating the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

Click HERE for downloadable PDF Instructions for this week’s portion of a crocheted Advent Shawl.***PLEASE read through entire pattern carefully to get an overview of the instructions for this week!

Listen here as I read the reflection for this week.

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As a child, the foretelling of the coming of Santa was an elaborate affair. From the books I read, to movies and holiday TV shows, from the malls and department stores, to wish lists and letters sent…all was designed to heighten the anticipation of this jolly man, dressed in red and white, coming to give gifts to children. Even adults whom I did not know seemed in on it as they would ask – “What have you asked Santa for this Christmas?” and “Have you been good?” or “Do you think you’ll get presents from Santa or lumps of coal?”

My dad went to great lengths some years, jingling sleigh bells late at night, making huge boot prints in the scattered ashes from our fireplace, all to heighten our excitement and secure our belief in this benevolent character. As an actor and director of theater, this was dad’s forte – bringing to life a story, however fantastical, in such a way that the “fourth wall” disappears and is experienced as real and true. I did not stop believing in Santa until the 5th grade, quite old I’d say to be finally letting go, despite the fact that I had found all of my and my siblings Letters to Santa in a box when we moved from one house to another. When my mom finally, plainly and simply, told me the truth about Santa, there was not a little disappointment.

The prophecies and foretelling of Christ’s coming likely had a similar mythical and legendary quality about them, as well as some confusion and disappointment in the unfolding events. The Jewish people, in faith and hope, held onto the prophecies that this Son of God would come and free them from their bondage, make all things right, give them untold gifts of peace on earth. When Christ as a babe finally did come, the questions began. A baby? Born to poor and unassuming parents? And then to watch his life unfold…carpenter by trade, youth teacher in the Synagogue, healer of the sick and then crucified?? Surely this is not what the prophecies were all about?!

In a similar, though lesser quandary, I wrestled with the news about Santa. You mean he isn’t a jolly man in a red suit? He doesn’t ride in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and there isn’t a North Pole with elves at work all year? You mean to tell me, that all along, this was just my dad?

Now my father is not perfect, but he is jolly. He loves to give gifts. His exuberance is infectious and he seems to know everyone he meets. To be told that Santa was actually my dad all those years was not a bad deal at all. In fact, he was a real, flesh and blood man, with whom I lived 365 days of the year and he delighted in his children. This was a much more substantial and enduring Santa than the plastic, tinsel-trimmed version I had been imagining.

To a far greater degree, what we now see as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of old, may be disappointing to some at first. but upon closer look, is richer and deeper and more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. We find that the Messiah, though he did not lead a revolution to overthrow the Roman oppressors, has indeed conquered all our enemies and risen victorious, raising us with Him. We find that He is flesh and blood, that we are His children and He loves us dearly. We discover that He delights in us, and knows us by name. He definitely knows if we’ve been naughty or nice, yet instead of giving us a lump of coal and exacting the penalty for our sin from us, He paid it all Himself. We find as we walk deeper with Him that the promised One is actually “an exact representation of the Father” (Hebrews 1:3), perfect in every way.

What we had hoped was Santa, we now see is our good and faithful Father, the Son being His exact representation, come to earth, in a manger, as a babe.

As you prepare for and enter into this holy season of Advent, may You be enabled to see your Heavenly Father for who He really is. Not some fabricated version you have made up to craft a good story, but the real flesh and blood Messiah, God come to us, Emmanuel, the baby King.

Live this week and beyond in the joy of knowing He lives with you 365 days of the year, delights in giving good gifts to His children, knows you completely and loves you unconditionally.

With grace in every stitch,

Jennifer

“For to us a child is born,
ย ย ย ย to us a son is given,
ย ย ย ย and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
ย ย ย ย Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
ย ย ย ย Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7ย Of the greatness of his government and peace
ย ย ย ย there will be no end.
He will reign on Davidโ€™s throne
ย ย ย ย and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
ย ย ย ย with justice and righteousness
ย ย ย ย from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
ย ย ย ย will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7