Advent Review: Reflections on a Crazy and Stressful Month at the End of a Crazy and Stressful Year

I started this blog post on December 27th or 28th. As the title states, rough month with lots of good bits sprinkled in. I definitely over-extended myself on responsibilities and events for the month so 100% all my bad. I entered Advent knowing it was going to be crazy cuz duh, church, but yeah, still a toughie.  Post-Advent proved to be a continuation of not-so-smooth sailing so this update did not get finished at the time I was intending it to be. But a blog for another day… So here’s my wee Advent reflection:

I love Advent. It’s a month full of reflection and anticipation at the coming of the Lord. The fulfilment of God’s promise to us. His Son is coming, and we gotta wait. I think there’s something special in the repetitive nature of Advent (and our Church’s calendar). We kind of know what to expect so we can’t be surprised. That being said, I’m sure very few people can say that their Advent experiences are always the same.

This Advent I volunteered to take all the services for the month. For the most part, I think I was quite comfortable planning out each Sunday. I even got to try my hand at a Lessons and Carols service! I’m grateful for Christopher giving me the opportunity to do this.

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Colston Milton Christmas tree as decorated during the 2nd Sunday in Advent by the weens!

The 1st Sunday of Advent also happened to coincide with Thanksgiving weekend (as it frequently does). So after worship at our various churches, the YAVs converged upon Lynn’s house to prepare a Thanksgiving meal to share with all our supervisors from our various sites. I think we managed to fit like 18 people in Lynn’s kitchen. It was wonderful to be able to share this American tradition with our new Scottish family.

The day before was a special one for the Milton Arts Project (MAP), one of the projects I’m working on. Colston Milton is home to MAP and MAP75, a record label. The old boiler room of the church was converted into a soundproof recording space. To launch this wonderful new space for the community the whole MAP crew transformed the church hall into a wonderful venue space. The day started with a song writing workshop, led to an interview with the Scottish writer James Kelman (I’ll need to find a video of the interview cuz WOWZERS! Also, I asked him a question that left him speechless!) and ended with a gig with some of the participants of the Music Sessions (adults) and the Racket (weans) showcasing their talent and hard work. It was a truly magical night, and that such things happen within the four walls of the church I think is a wonderful sign of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Another adventure I found myself on The GK Experience’s Cash for Kids drive. The GK Experience is a youth work organization that some of the YAVs get to cross paths with in our work (and social lives, they know how to party, which is much appreciated). It’s also really cool that their fearless leader Alex was a volunteer in Milton (like myself) many moons ago and I love that our paths cross so often through both work and play! During the crazy Christmas season, GK undertakes in a project called “Cash for Kids” which provides cash grants and Christmas presents for some of the most disadvantaged youth in Glasgow and the West, many of whom we work with. It’s a huge undertaking which involved a cold warehouse, more toys than the mind can conceive, many shopping trips, a master spreadsheet lots of sorting and THE BEST HOME VISIT EVAR. It was so wonderful to get to experience this project. There is much to be said about the materialism that has come to be associated with Christmas, however, for many families the tangibility that comes with presents at Christmas is a huge part of the season. To be in a situation where you can provide that for families, truly is a blessing that I will always cherish.

Other things sprinkled into my Advent included caroling, getting to know the recording studio with Iain as a few folks get in to work on songs they’ve written, and some difficult conversations with a couple of people. All in, I’m really glad that Advent is over. Post Advent comes Christmas and the New Year which for me, bring redemption, new beginnings and even more so on this YAV journey, new adventures.

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W/ OG Scotland YAV Julie at the PA/Anderston Christmas Night Out!

Originally I was going to add some of my fave Christmas tunes. But self-control and Epiphany innit? So instead I’ll leave you with a wee prayer. Kanye gives us many blessings, and this one (on which he’s not in) follows up on his single “Ultralight Beam” and features the musical stylings of Kirk Franklin and sista Kelly Price. Enjoy!

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