Firstfruits began with an idea: How could women’s needs to gather with other women, experience God’s love and go forth more centered on their own giftedness and purpose be met? Then the Holy Spirit stepped in and something powerful happened!
In the beginning … Firstfruits began as a vision for a women’s ministry whose purpose was to gather women to experience God’s love. And as a result, be transformed!

As word spread about this unique opportunity, other parishes became interested in hosting a Firstfruits gathering. It became apparent to the founders of Firstfruits that this “gathering” needed to be moveable. We became known as a moveable feast of spiritual opportunities for women.

Lessons on Advent

Mass began this morning with a video about Advent. One line in the video struck me. It said that if you are tired of Christmas by December 25 you haven’t done Advent correctly. Which begs the question, “How do you do Advent correctly?” And what if you are tired of Christmas before December 25?!

Advent isn’t about the shopping, decorating, and baking. It goes deeper than all of that. It’s about preparation, expectation, and joyful anticipation. Preparation of our selves, not our mantels. Expectation of a new birth, an updating of our spiritual lives not our wardrobe. And joyful anticipation of promises fulfilled through a baby, not a large white van.

How do we prepare ourselves? What can we expect? And how do we stay focused on the joy during this time of waiting? We find these answers in the behaviors of any expectant mother.

The preparation starts slowly as she begins to realize she’s not alone anymore. It’s not just about her anymore. There is a sense of a “We-ness”, a moving out of herself and into a love and compassion for the needs of another. A transition to selflessness. Every decision she makes, with the welfare of another above herself.

She expects to be uncomfortable, to be stretched (no pun intended) outside her usual parameters. She expects to be forced into a new way of thinking, living, sitting, and tying her shoes during this time of waiting. There is a surrendering to these expectations. She trusts that they are all a part of this process of new life. They feel odd now but with time will become a new normal.

She anticipates, with great joy, the birth of this baby but the heartburn and the swollen ankles try to steal the joy. The anticipation, though filled with challenges and unknowns, brings joy as long as she keeps her eyes on the prize. As long as she never doubts or looses sight of the One who promises abundant life here and for eternity. As longs as she has hope.

Let’s learn from our expectant mom how to do this Advent correctly.

Focus on cultivating a “We-ness” within ourselves. Reach out to others who need love. Put the welfare of others ahead of ourselves.

Expect and embrace changes in ourselves. As we take this time of Advent more seriously and want to shift our focus from how we have spent it in the past, we can expect to be changed. We can expect newness in our outlook. We can expect God to respond to that desire on our part and show us something new. It might feel odd, but embrace it and protect it. It may become your new normal.

And lastly, be joyful! Life is full of heartburn and swollen ankles but it’s also full of goodness and love. Gifts from a God who cares. Look hard for it. Point it out to others who are having a hard time seeing it. Share the thrill of hope and keep your eyes on the prize this Advent.

Then hopefully by December 25 we won’t be sick of Christmas. The waiting will have been full of all kinds of wonders and glimpses of the new life we are waiting for!

Joan

**Let us help you have more time for what really matters this Advent. Join us at Firstfruits on December 12 or December 21 from 9am-noon for Helpin’ Elves. We will have “elves” at Firstfruits who are willing to stuff, stamp, lick, cut and wrap. Or whatever you need done. Many hands make light work and besides it’s more fun to do it with others. Check out our website for details.

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Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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