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Advent might be my favourite time of year. 

In my own journey, I love weaving together a variety of practices, all to help me get ready for the coming of God into our world. This includes a variety of daily reflections sent directly to my email box, the advent wreath, and other activities. 

One new practice for me this year is Adventword, a global online advent calendar. If you sign up, you will receive visual and written meditations for everyday of Advent.

There is also an option to be involved by posting photos and reflections inspired by each Adventword-of-the-day. This is the practice that I am taking on this year! You will be able to see these posts everyday on St. John’s Facebook page. We will also work to have them on the website, somewhere, somehow. 

A blessed Advent to you all, 




Day 1: #Tender #Adventword Advent is started, so we are back to doing @adventword so grateful for this.

Day 2: More than just the caffeine. The warmth, the ritual, the time to rest in the morning, and the memory of getting a mug with a good friend gives me strength today. What strengthens you?

Day 3: Lichens might not look like much, but they are actually composites of algal and fungal symbionts. They are amazing! Lichens are often the first organisms to arrive and begin living on exposed rock (after an earthquake, lava flow or other geological event)- not a very hospitable environment. They are integral through their own decay and by wearing down the rock in creating rich earth, where mosses and grasses and eventually forests and flowers may spring up. Thank you lichens. O God, take our hard and stony hearts and cover them with lichen, so that flowers may spring up in soil where life was thought to be unlikely, if not impossible.

Day 4: This polypore is called a turkey tail. They are important in breaking down the lignin in wood, which is very hard and does not decompose easily. Without this beautiful little fungus, what would our forests look like? How would the nutrients be able to be recycled into new trees and other organisms? Sometimes before rebuilding, we need to first break down and make space. O God, May it be so with us and with your Church.

Day 5: This is my ecclesiology (what I imagine the Church is like), even when we don’t act like it. O God, open our eyes to the reality that as communities and as individuals, we are not alone; we are not small, delicate and disconnected structures in a big world. Help us to see how deep our fellowship really goes.

Day 6: I took this photo 5 years ago in a seaweed class, and I can’t for the life of me remember anything about it, other than the waves of wonder and awe that washed over me as I looked down the microscope at this breathtakingly beautiful world that I had been previously unaware of. God’s glory and majesty are certainly made manifest in big things - mountains and oceans and sunsets - but also in things that are so small that we might walk by them every day without realizing it. Keep watch, dear friends, for the glory all around.

Day 7: “He answered, I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out” (Luke 19.40)
“the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55.22b)
In the rainy season the labyrinth in the back garden of the church turns a vibrant green with moss. I find these small non vascular plants so life-giving. I encourage you to get close to a moss today - really close - and spend some time together. I wonder what you will hear.

Day 8: A long, long, long, long time ago (over a billion years) you and this fern had an ancestor in common. Isn’t that amazing?! This is your family. We are not alone. O God, who created and connected every living thing and declared it all good, help us to find community and comfort anywhere and everywhere. We sure need it.

Day 9: Do you know how long it takes a tree to decompose? Decades. Centuries. It’s hard to imagine that this small, delicate fungus can be a part of the total transformation of something as giant, solid and enduring as this tree, but it can. It’s amazing. It just takes time. I wonder if that’s kinda like how we might participate in the advent of the Kingdom.
O God, it’s hard to imagine how something as small and delicate as us can be involved in something as big as the transformation of the whole world - there is so much that seems too hard, too enduring to break down, to change. Give us eyes to see the difference we make in the greater story. Give us patience in our work.
Day 10: “Once you see it you can’t un-see it” a friend told me about advertising in movies and TV. The same, I think, might be said for mushrooms. Once I had been awakened and made aware of their existence, I began to see (and delight in) them wherever I went.
I wonder if it is the same for mercy.
O God, help us see the small mercies that fill the world. It only makes sense that they are there, because that’s what you’re like after all.
Day 11: Water is a weird, magical thing. Substances get denser as they move from liquid to solid states, right?! Yup, except water. A good thing too, or life would be next to impossible, as lakes and rivers and oceans would freeze from the bottom up. I could go on and on listing the incredible qualities of water, so many tied up fundamentally with life itself, but the thing that is resonating with me today is the cycle of water. I wonder if the water in this stream has been inside a mushroom, or a cedar tree before. I wonder if it has been blessed, or used in baptism. Any of those possibilities fill me with profound joy and reverence.
O God, thank you for the gift of water, for the gift of life; may we treat it with the holiness, joy and playfulness that it deserves, and share it abundantly with all.
Day 12: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (John 1:1-3)
Not one thing came into being, like this beautiful yellow jelly fungus ❤️ Where do you see the wisdom, whimsy, wonder and work of the Word in the world?
Day 13: More to be desired are they than gold,even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb (psalm 19:10)
Faith has become richer for me as I have understood it to be more than just involving my mind, but also my body and senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. These help me understand and engage more deeply in matters spiritual (or perhaps the spirituality of all matter).
For example, the first berries that I find and eat in the summer are each small foretastes of the heavenly banquet.
This year I foraged and ate my very first mushrooms - these winter chanterelles. Like honey, like summer berries, these delighted my senses, nourished my body, and taught me a little more about the Divine. O God, let us see, hear, touch, smell and taste you in all creation.
⚠️ warning: only eat wild mushrooms that you are 110% certain about.
Day 14: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.” Isaiah 35:1-2a
This is a sundew I found floating on a log in the middle of the lake this summer. It is a carnivorous plant, which allows it to live in nutrient-poor locations - places you wouldn’t imagine finding a plant (like a water logged log in the middle of a lake).
I love it when life does not just exist, but thrives in places where we did not expect it to, like the desert, or this log in the middle of the lake.
Friends, I think God invites us to go to those places; those places that people would not always expect, but where life may be experienced in all its abundance and where you may thrive.
Day 15: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
This is a ghost pipe, a plant that does not produce chlorophyll and does not photosynthesize, hence the lack of green. It is parasitic, so instead of using the sun’s energy to produce sugars it taps into the surrounding underground fungal-root networks. They usually only spring up above ground occasionally and under certain conditions. I often see them after a good rain. When they are underground, however, they are still alive and doing important work, it’s just not yet their time or season for flowering.
I need to remember that rest is important work, too. There is a season and a time for it. O God, rest is one of the things that you do; help us to be more like you in that.
Day 16: “Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling God’s command!
Mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!” (Psalm 148:7-10)
These are two lichens from the genus Cladonia: reindeer moss (not actually a moss) and British soldiers (not actually British soldiers).
These lichens praise their creator in amazing ways. Maybe we can learn something about worship from them. Maybe we can join with them in that unending song of praise.
O God, thank you for lichens; thank you specifically for the genus Cladonia; thank you even more specifically for these two lichens in particular; thank you - you give us glorious partners in worship and prayer.
Day 17: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)
I’ve started praying with incense lately. That’s been really nice. What I have been using for my incense holder has been part of a deer skull that was my Opa’s. That’s been really nice too. All the different parts of this prayer space reminds me that I do not pray alone.


Day 18: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:32a)
I found these two beautiful mushrooms in front of St. John’s the other day. I don’t know anything about them, but I want to. They made me very happy. They were very, very good.
Sometimes scientific learning or knowledge is cast in a way with faith that as one grows, the other diminishes. However, as I have learned more about how the world works, my awe and wonder has only increased rather than decreased. Learning is holy work, whereby we join in God’s action of looking and finding that what we see is good. Maybe our curiosity, our desire to learn and delight in discovery is part of what it means to be made in the image of God.

Day 19: I had the privilege of introducing the the Advent wreath to a family who had never experienced it before this year. I have heard that the practice has been a blessing to them. However, these reflections by this child, sparked by the wreath, have been a blessing to me even more so. I guess that’s just how blessings work.

Day 20: It’s a magical thing that these trees and mosses and ferns can use the radiation emanating from that star over there to produce sugars - energy harnessable by life. It is an almost alchemical miracle that is happening all around us everyday.
I wonder if we have been given a similar ability of transformation, to take one thing and turn it into something new and life-giving.
O God, May we be agents of transformation, producing what is life-giving as readily as our photosynthesizing cousins.

Day 21: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

I believe that this is “dog vomit slime mold” (fun fact, slime molds are not actually fungi) and is much more beautiful than it sounds. If that ID is correct then this is plasmodial, a giant sack of cytoplasm with thousands of nuclei floating in it. So cool! Is this organism just one giant uber cell, or many cells which have lost any sense of separateness one from the other?

I believe that this is “dog vomit slime mold” (fun fact, slime molds are not actually fungi) and is much more beautiful than it sounds. If that ID is correct then this is plasmodial, a giant sack of cytoplasm with thousands of nuclei floating in it. So cool! Is this organism just one giant uber cell, or many cells which have lost any sense of separateness one from the other?

O God, help us to experience the kind of solidarity that you call us to have with one another, both suffering and rejoicing with one another.

Day 22: There are many things that science and spirituality have in common. One thing that I particularly appreciate is that each admits a fundamental unknowability about the world (or at least in science and spirituality done right) In science this might be called uncertainty or limitations, and in matters of faith, mystery.
However, in each, even though this unknowability is acknowledged, questions are still asked; the truth is still sought.
This moss and lichen are growing on the back gate of the church (and I love them.) Even if I were to read and learn about them, or watch them for the rest of my life, I still wouldn’t know all there is to know about them. The world is full of mystery, and my prayer is that this sparks our imaginations and curiosities, that this spurs us to ask more questions and to continue to seek the truth.