Advent devotion: Still by still

News | December 12, 2019

I take videos of moments, primarily so that I may extract the photos I’d like to keep. Recently I recorded, then recaptured in stills – frame by frame – our youngest child’s birthday cake lighting ceremony and singing.

To describe: It begins with darkness. A flame is seen, and a dim light falls on our sons. With gradually increasing light, our oldest carefully lights candles on the birthday cake. One by one, the room slowly lights up. Their faces slowly become brighter, each intently focusing on the light, candle by candle.

With all candles lit, a cue is received, and our oldest’s mouth starts moving, the singing of “Happy Birthday to you, Cha cha cha!” has begun. With big grin, the younger honoree takes it all in. A few frames see him adoring his father (who’s off camera). A few frames see him adoring me, his mother (through the camera). A few frames see he and his brother adoring each other. Each shared look is brilliantly “namaste,” which translates to “the Light in me honors the light in you.”

The young one then turns toward the light:  He’s beaming. A few frames he’s smiling, then an appearance of reflection, contemplation, and last, anticipation. A wish is made, then breathing in, and breathing out. A dim spark. Then black.

The moment is done. We celebrate another year of growth. A year of life! With a wish and a prayer for the promise of the next, lights turn on, cake is served, a new year commences.

This Christmas we will celebrate the approximate 2,024th birthday (give or take a year) of our savior, Jesus Christ. But before we do, we have this tradition of gradually lighting the candles of the Advent wreath.

Hope – week 1

Peace – week 2

Joy – week 3

Love – week 4

Inspired by the invitation to consider “Light and Life,” our family has our own Advent wreath on the table this year. Week by week, we reflect in the wreath’s gradually increasing light in this season of more “lesser dark” (Genesis 1:15-18). Night by night, we light the candles, read a verse, hang an ornament on the Jesse Tree, say a prayer, and sing a song.

What will happen when we slow down for a moment, darken everything else, and illuminate what’s important: God’s word and each other? What will we see? What will we hear? What will we feel? Ponder? Pray? Do?

May God bless this season of hope, peace, joy, and love in your life, in our church, in your home, and with each other.

“Light and life to all He brings!”

Janet Forinash teaches Sunday school at St. Paul. She lives in Bettendorf with her husband and two boys. The family enjoys holiday traditions, and keeping their Christmas tree up through the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany.

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