A children’s Advent story you may want to read at church.
By Bill Winn, Pastor, Grace Communion Hanover
Once upon a time—because all good stories begin this way—there was a little girl who loved her mother and father dearly. Her father was a blacksmith, and her mother sewed breeches and shirts for the sailors who lived in their small seaside village. [Breeches are short pants that fit snugly below the knee.]
Celia was a bright child and full of wonder. She had a vivid imagination and a daring heart. Her family was not rich, but they also were not counted among the poor. Celia considered herself immensely blessed. Her family was kind and loving. They had all that they needed.
Though her parents often struggled to understand the way her young mind worked, they loved the exciting stories she would tell. At supper, Celia would regale them with fantastic tales of dragons and knights, of giant whales and brave captains, and of daring maidens who befriend the talking octopuses.
In the winter of her ninth year, Celia found out that she would soon become a sister.
“A new baby is coming to our family,” her mother informed.
“Oh, my,” exclaimed Celia, “Will it be a girl or a boy?”
Laughing her mother explained, “We have no way of knowing until the child arrives.”
“What shall we call her,” asked Celia?
“Her?” queried her mother. “We mustn’t assume the child will be a girl. Wouldn’t you fancy a little brother?”
“I suppose,” she answered, “But between now and when the baby arrives what shall we call her… or him?”
Her mother was busy adding up the figures from her tailoring and from her husband’s smithing. The task was far too tedious to continue chatting with Celia while she added and subtracted numbers.
“Celia, my dear, why don’t you sit quietly and see if you can decide on a temporary name that we might use until the child arrives,” suggested her mother.
Celia sat beside the kitchen table with her feet in the chair, her chin resting on her knees. She drummed her fingers on the table and hummed a tune she’d heard in church. As she hummed the tune her mother yielded to the moment. She smiled, put down her pencil, and began to sing along.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Celia smiled as she placed her feet on the floor and leaned toward her mother, folding her arms and resting her chin. “Mother, you sing so beautifully,” she mused, “I wonder from which angel the Lord borrowed your voice.”
Her mother returned the smile and stroked her cheek. “You, my love, are the angel if ever there was one in flesh. What made you choose that song?” she asked.
Celia fairly beamed. Her mother’s adoration washed over her like rays of sunlight.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “I heard it in church last Sunday.”
“You know,” started her mother, “It will be Advent soon. That is why the choir has begun to sing the songs of the Advent Season.”
Celia was usually curious about everything except the matters of the church. She loved her friends at church and the songs but most of the time her mind drifted in seas of fantastic daydreams during the sermons. Today, however, her mother’s reverent tone concerning the subject of Advent intrigued her.
“Tell me about it, please.” asked Celia.
Her mother explained that Advent was the season leading up to Christmas when the coming of the Messiah was celebrated in such a way as to try and recreate a sense of anticipation like the people of Jesus’ day must have felt.
“Advent is a season of hope, love, joy, peace and, of course, Christ,” explained her mother, “Our hope is in Jesus, we love because he first loved us, we rejoice in his finished work, and we have peace that only Jesus can give. Each Sunday of the four weeks of Advent, a different candle is lit to commemorate the theme for that week. Three purple candles and one pink candle are lit. On the last Sunday of Advent, the final purple candle is lit along with the Christ candle in the center.
“Why is it called Advent?” she asked.
Celia’s mother explained that the word itself was quite old and simply meant, coming or arrival.
Elaborating, she continued, “Advent is not only the celebration of Christ’s first coming but in the season of Advent we express our hope and longing for his second.”
Celia had been paying careful attention and quietly listening until her imagination burst forth. “I know,” she exclaimed, “Addie!”
“Addie?” her mother inquired.
“Yes,” replied Celia, “We shall call the child Addie until it arrives. Addie, short for Advent so that everyone will know how we long for her coming.”
Celia’s mother laughed and reminded her that it may indeed be a boy to which she replied, “I can at least hope for a girl, can’t I?”