Welcome to Advent 2019!

Tomorrow is the beginning of Advent. Here on the New Leaf Blog, we are going to be journeying through Advent together with writers from across Canada.  The New Leaf Network is a Canadian network spread across this northern country. We are people grappling with the reality of darkness we can see around us, while being confident that even when the dawn takes longer to appear on the horizon, the sun is still there providing for our world. Even when there are cultural shifts, or changes in the religious landscape, we hold on to the presence of Christ in our neighbourhoods, and our lives.

New Leaf is a network of people who are connecting because of their desire to start something new in churches, neighbourhoods and cities all across Canada. Our shared and central theme is Jesus Christ and His love. As we host events, conversation and training we are pleasantly surprised by the diversity of people who come together to look for the Spirit at work in Canada. New Leaf is a collaborative group that values the story and particulars of the unique context of the people who gather. I find that when I hear the particulars of another’s story, I resonate with things that are similar and I see the contrast in the ways that I am different from them, and sometimes I disagree significantly. Yet, whenever I hear these stories, I find myself softened in how I hold up my own story and bring it to the group. I hope you feel the same as you engage with the writers who have contributed to the Advent Reader.

I am excited to share this reader with you for several reasons. One is that for each day as we approach Christmas a wonderful writer has taken the time to put their thoughts about Advent into writing. This collection of writers are a sampling of the variety of people who connect with the New Leaf Network. They are involved in churches and neighbourhoods across the country, engaging in the work of the Creator in their particular place. This group is not representative of the full diversity of our complex country, yet I hope you can see how we are better together, sharing from diverse perspectives to see the world more clearly.

Some of you might be wondering how we collected this group of writers. They come from a variety of connections. Some are the regular contributors to our blog, some put up their hand to write, some were introductions by our partners, some are part of the organizations we partner with. Because of this varied way of discovered our contributors, the collection of reflections is diverse, yet, we are united around the theme of the reader and around Christ.

As the snow comes and the days grow shorter, I think Advent is one of my favourite times of the year, my favourite carols are the ones in the minor keys, that lean into the longing of Advent. The ones that tell the truth about the state of the world – that brokenness and injustice are all around us. Being able to look at that reality, knowing that the world-changing moment of incarnation is right around the corner feels subversive to me in the midst of the consumerism and pasted on sparkles. It feels like something I can do to make a difference – pointing to how God came to humanity, in the midst of the competition to be the shiniest.

If you are not reading the story of Advent and Christmas from the perspective of the outsider, or the broken-hearted, then you might miss how God’s presence in the world is a really big deal! In the midst of all the reasons to weep, God becomes vulnerable and changes the course of history.

The theme we are reflecting on this Advent is Falling to Pieces: Engaging Advent Even When All is Not Right with the World. As we enter into Advent, most of us can’t help but admit that all is not right with the world. Whether the “not right” is our internal emotions, our relational world, our churches, our neighbourhoods or the wider world — most people cannot help but feel that unsettled feeling that something is not right from time-to-time, if not most of the time. We feel grief, and protest and longing as we engage this broken world and face our broken selves. And, as we engage with the story of Advent, we can see ourselves in the people who longed for the coming Messiah.

We find ourselves standing next to Mary – uneasy with her mysteriously growing belly.
We find ourselves standing next to the Elizabeth – receiving Mary’s words of prophetic protest as their unborn children recognize each other.
We find ourselves standing next to the magi – tuning into their gut feeling and detouring around Herod on the way home.

Join us as we take the step to engage Advent even if things are falling to pieces. 

Welcome to this space, a little space held together each day as you receive these reflections in your inbox or link to them from social media.

Wait with us here. Even in the darkness. 

The Light Himself is coming.

Thank you for reading the New Leaf Advent Reader, a collection of reflections from writers across Canada. If you are enjoying the reader, sign up to receive the readings in your inbox each day below, and please share this reflection with your friends and family who might also enjoy it.