[Waiting for Him] Eat your way to Christmas

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!

In diesem Monat gibt es eine Serie über Advent und wie wir uns auf Weihnachten vorbereiten können. Hier gibt es mehr Infos über die Serie. Komm und sei dabei bei den Vorbereitungen und beim Warten!
On Friday I talked about preparing yourself and your surroundings for Christmas. And I mentioned baking Christmas cookies as my first step towards Christmas.
This year I had quite a bit of time on my hand (this is what you do after graduating from university, haha), and so I could experiment with recipes a bit. These pictures should not make you jealous or hungry, but rather inspire you to bake some deliciousness of your own?

Cognac Cookies
(all measurements in grams and celcius – it’s a good exercise for the Americans 🙂 and yields about 50 finished cookies)

for the dough:
200 g flour
125 g butter (cold)
1 egg
75 g sugar
1 lemon, peel

for the filling:
100 g butter
100 g powder sugar
1 egg yolk
1-2 table spoons cognac
50 g ground almonds

200g chocolate
75 g almond slivers

mix dough ingredients until well combined and cool for 1 hour
preheat oven to 175°C

roll out dough and use cookie form (stars, hearts, whatever form you like or have) to cut out individual cookies
bake cookies for ca. 10 minutes, let them cool

mix filling ingredients until you get a creamy filling

take two cookies, brush one cookie with the filling, and put other cookie on top

melt chocolate in hot water bath and brush cookies with it, decorate with almond slivers

What are your favorite Christmas cookie recipes?

Cognac Plätzchen 

für den Teig:
200g Mehl
125 Butter
1 Ei
75 g Zucker
1 Zitronenschale

für die Füllung:
100g Butter
100g Puderzucker
1 Eigelb
1-2 EL Cognac
50 g gemahlene Mandeln

zum Verzieren:
1 Tafel Schokolade/Konfitüre
75 g gestiftelte Mandeln

aus den Zutaten einen Teig machen und ca. 1 Stunde kühlen lassen
Ofen auf 175°C vorheizen

Teig ausrollen und Plätzchen ausstechen
diese ca. 10 Minuten backen, dann kühlen lassen

aus den Zutaten eine Creme herstellen, jeweils zwei Plätzchen damit bestreichen und zusammenkleben

Schokolade im Wasserbad schmelzen, Plätzchen damit einpinseln und mit Mandelstiften verzieren

Was sind deine Lieblingsplätzchenrezepte?

[Waiting for Him] Didn’t you see me?

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!
In diesem Monat gibt es eine Serie über Advent und wie wir uns auf Weihnachten vorbereiten können. Hier gibt es mehr Infos über die Serie. Komm und sei dabei bei den Vorbereitungen und beim Warten!

We talked quite a bit about our expectations this Advent already. We learn to wait, but also to dream big. And most of all, that the Lord we’re waiting for knows how to exceed our expectations again and again. 
But what does that mean? He doesn’t only give us more of what we want and expect, he starts by changing and moulding our expectations. He might redirect our gaze towards someone or something we wouldn’t see otherwise. He shows his strength in our weakness. His love and compassion in our coldness. His time in our stress. 

When all Christmas cookies are baked and the candles are lit – then it’s time to listen to a Christmas story in our house. It’s the same every year, everywhere. We took that story to warm Uganda, where Christmas was rather about sweating than snuggling with a cup of tea. We turned it into a musical. Even though we’re no longer at home for the first Advent we take that story with us. Just yesterday I got to listen to it with friends. The message is the same: Christ is coming this Christmas, but it might be different than you expected. 
So get yourself a cup of tea and a warm blanket (or a cool drink if you live in the Southern hemisphere) and challenge yourself and your view of Christmas with this story: Leo Tolstoy’s “Papa Panov’s Special Christmas”.

It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

Old Papa Panov, the village shoemaker, stepped outside his shop to take one last look around. The sounds of happiness, the bright lights and the faint but delicious smells of Christmas cooking reminded him of past Christmas times when his wife had still been alive and his own children little. Now they had gone. His usually cheerful face, with the little laughter wrinkles behind the round steel spectacles, looked sad now. But he went back indoors with a firm step, put up the shutters and set a pot of coffee to heat on the charcoal stove. Then, with a sigh, he settled in his big armchair.

Papa Panov did not often read, but tonight he pulled down the big old family Bible and, slowly tracing the lines with one forefinger, he read again the Christmas story. He read how Mary and Joseph, tired by their journey to Bethlehem, found no room for them at the inn, so that Mary’s little baby was born in the cowshed.
“Oh, dear, oh, dear!” exclaimed Papa Panov, “if only they had come here! I would have given them my bed and I could have covered the baby with my patchwork quilt to keep him warm.”
He read on about the wise men who had come to see the baby Jesus, bringing him splendid gifts. Papa Panov’s face fell. “I have no gift that I could give him,” he thought sadly.

Then his face brightened. He put down the Bible, got up and stretched his long arms t the shelf high up in his little room. He took down a small, dusty box and opened it. Inside was a perfect pair of tiny leather shoes. Papa Panov smiled with satisfaction. Yes, they were as good as he had remembered- the best shoes he had ever made. “I should give him those,” he decided, as he gently put them away and sat down again.

He was feeling tired now, and the further he read the sleeper he became. The print began to dance before his eyes so that he closed them, just for a minute. In no time at all Papa Panov was fast asleep.
And as he slept he dreamed. He dreamed that someone was in his room and he know at once, as one does in dreams, who the person was. It was Jesus.

“You have been wishing that you could see me, Papa Panov.” he said kindly, “then look for me tomorrow. It will be Christmas Day and I will visit you. But look carefully, for I shall not tell you who I am.”

When at last Papa Panov awoke, the bells were ringing out and a thin light was filtering through the shutters. “Bless my soul!” said Papa Panov. “It’s Christmas Day!”
He stood up and stretched himself for he was rather stiff. Then his face filled with happiness as he remembered his dream. 

This would be a very special Christmas after all, for Jesus was coming to visit him. How would he look? Would he be a little baby, as at that first Christmas? Would he be a grown man, a carpenter- or the great King that he is, God’s Son? He must watch carefully the whole day through so that he recognized him however he came.

Papa Panov put on a special pot of coffee for his Christmas breakfast, took down the shutters and looked out of the window. The street was deserted, no one was stirring yet. No one except the road sweeper. He looked as miserable and dirty as ever, and well he might! Whoever wanted to work on Christmas Day – and in the raw cold and bitter freezing mist of such a morning?

Papa Panov opened the shop door, letting in a thin stream of cold air. “Come in!” he shouted across the street cheerily. “Come in and have some hot coffee to keep out the cold!”
The sweeper looked up, scarcely able to believe his ears. He was only too glad to put down his broom and come into the warm room. His old clothes steamed gently in the heat of the stove and he clasped both red hands round the comforting warm mug as he drank.
Papa Panov watched him with satisfaction, but every now and them his eyes strayed to the window. It would never do to miss his special visitor.
“Expecting someone?” the sweeper asked at last. So Papa Panov told him about his dream.
“Well, I hope he comes,” the sweeper said, “you’ve given me a bit of Christmas cheer I never expected to have. I’d say you deserve to have your dream come true.” And he actually smiled.

When he had gone, Papa Panov put on cabbage soup for his dinner, then went to the door again, scanning the street. He saw no one. But he was mistaken. Someone was coming.
The girl walked so slowly and quietly, hugging the walls of shops and houses, that it was a while before he noticed her. She looked very tired and she was carrying something. As she drew nearer he could see that it was a baby, wrapped in a thin shawl. There was such sadness in her face and in the pinched little face of the baby, that Papa Panov’s heart went out to them.
“Won’t you come in,” he called, stepping outside to meet them. “You both need a warm by the fire and a rest.”

The young mother let him shepherd her indoors and to the comfort of the armchair. She gave a big sigh of relief.
“I’ll warm some milk for the baby,” Papa Panov said, “I’ve had children of my own- I can feed her for you.” He took the milk from the stove and carefully fed the baby from a spoon, warming her tiny feet by the stove at the same time.
“She needs shoes,” the cobbler said.
But the girl replied, “I can’t afford shoes, I’ve got no husband to bring home money. I’m on my way to the next village to get work.”

A sudden thought flashed through Papa Panov’s mind. He remembered the little shoes he had looked at last night. But he had been keeping those for Jesus. He looked again at the cold little feet and made up his mind.

“Try these on her,” he said, handing the baby and the shoes to the mother. The beautiful little shoes were a perfect fit. The girl smiled happily and the baby gurgled with pleasure.

“You have been so kind to us,” the girl said, when she got up with her baby to go. “May all your Christmas wishes come true!” 

But Papa Panov was beginning to wonder if his very special Christmas wish would come true. Perhaps he had missed his visitor? He looked anxiously up and down the street. There were plenty of people about but they were all faces that he recognized. There were neighbors going to call on their families. They nodded and smiled and wished him Happy Christmas! Or beggars- and Papa Panov hurried indoors to fetch them hot soup and a generous hunk of bread, hurrying out again in case he missed the Important Stranger.

All too soon the winter dusk fell. When Papa Panov next went to the door and strained his eyes, he could no longer make out the passers-by. most were home and indoors by now anyway. He walked slowly back into his room at last, put up the shutters, and sat down wearily in his armchair. 

So it had been just a dream after all. Jesus had not come. 

Then all at once he knew that he was no longer alone in the room. 
This was not adream for he was wide awake. 

At first he seemed to see before his eyes the long stream of people who had come to him that day. 
He saw again the old road sweeper, the young mother and her baby and the beggars he had fed. As they passed, each whispered, “Didn’t you see me, Papa Panov?” 

“Who are you?” he called out, bewildered. 

Then another voice answered him. It was the voice from his dream- the voice of Jesus. 

“I was hungry and you fed me,” he said. “I was naked and you clothed me. I was cold and you warmed me. I came to you today in everyone of those you helped and welcomed.” 

Then all was quiet and still. Only the sound of the big clock ticking. A great peace and happiness seemed to fill the room, overflowing Papa Panov’s heart until he wanted to burst out singing and laughing and dancing with joy. 

“So he did come after all!” was all that he said. 

[Five Minute Friday] Prepare

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!
But it’s also Friday and I am linking up with Kate Motaung. Join our writing party here!

I suppose this word sums up what we do during Advent.
We wait for Christmas, the birth of our savior.
And we prepare. Get everything ready. 
Clean the house.
Plan the Christmas Eve meal.
Buy presents and wrap them.
Write Christmas cards.

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,    


  and every mountain and hill be made low;
  the uneven ground shall become level,     
  and the rough places a plain.”
Isaiah 40:3&4

The bible calls us to prepare. The Lord himself told the Israelites to prepare. 
Make way for the Lord. 
Prepare yourselves and everything around you because I’m coming. 

So how does preparation look like back then and today?
Are we really prepared when Christmas comes or are we simply exhausted from preparing?
It is quite a big job to do to prepare for the Lord’s coming. 
After years of struggle and exile and ‘punishment’ from the Lord he wants to return. 
To be with them again. How do you get ready for that? 
The bible speaks of making a road in the wilderness and making the hills flat. 
Wow, that’s not easy.

Getting ourselves ready for Christmas can be hard, too. 
To get your heart in the right place. 
To establish a welcoming atmosphere and nurture an expectant spirit in the midst of Christmas turbulences – that’s really difficult.
But it starts with little things. 
Taking steps towards a bigger thing. 
Making a road in the wilderness, as long and dry as it may be. 
Working on one hill at a time.

Practical preparation can help us with the spiritual preparation. 
For me, Advent begins when we light the first candle at home and when we start baking Christmas cookies.
It might be in the middle of the week, in the midst of work and other challenges. 
But the moment you put on that Christmas cassette (yes, cassette!) and roll out the dough – this is when Advent begins. 
It is my first step towards Christmas. 

It would be a shame not to share some of these sweet cookie outcomes…soon. 
But before that I would like to hear from you: When does Advent start for you? 
How do you prepare for Christmas?

[Waiting for Him] He Lives in the Darkness

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!
In diesem Monat gibt es eine Serie über Advent und wie wir uns auf Weihnachten vorbereiten können. Hier gibt es mehr Infos über die Serie. Komm und sei dabei bei den Vorbereitungen und beim Warten!


One of my favorite things is driving at night. 
There is a certain quietness in the car as you slowly make your way through a world fallen asleep, resting and waiting for a new day to come.
I remember taking many trips with my family at odd hours. We usually traveled at night since many relatives lived in far corners of the country, so we began our journeys early. Everyone’s sleepy and quiet, but slowly you can feel life coming back. 

It is interesting to see how the world around you wakes up: a pitch black sky shows the first hints of light before dawn slowly breaks through. 
The formerly invisible becomes visible. 
A new day brings new possibilities, new surprises, new mercies. 
That moment of dawn is one of the most satisfying feelings I know. 

We are celebrating Advent, preparing ourselves for a new dawn. 
Even though it often doesn’t feel like it. 
In Germany, November and December are some of the darkest months: it gets dark around 5pm, people are more moody and tired. 
It seems like the world is falling asleep. 
These months are the season for reflection, growing depression, and loneliness. 
Instead of joy there’s despair and hopelessness. 
We seem to live in darkness.

In such times, when life seems to be dense darkness, I am reminded of a German hymn with powerful words and an even more powerful story. 
Its writer Jochen Klepper lived in Nazi Germany and was married to a Jewish woman. They suffered under the Nazi regime but didn’t want to give in to racist pressure. Klepper lost his job, was tortured in the army and in a concentration camp; in the end, the family committed suicide to escape ethnic separation and further humilation. 

In the midst of suffering, Klepper’s focus is not on the darkness he is surrounded by. 
He doesn’t speak of hopelessness or despair. 
Instead, he points to the everlasting hope we celebrate at Christmas: a small child comes into the world, into our darkness because he WANTS to. 
He becomes our ally – our closest friend who endures and sits with us in our darkness. 
But he is also our SAVIOR, the bright morning star.
His light covers all our darkness, it makes the invisible visible, so that NO darkness could ever hold us back. 
As we travel through this season of darkness and waiting, may we remember that dawn is not far away and that the one who WANTS to live with us in the darkness WILL also light it up. With himself, the living light of the world. 

“Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen,                              The night has advanced                  
der Tag ist nicht mehr fern.                               The day is no longer far               
So sei nun Lob gesungen                                    Therefore let praise now be sung
dem hellen Morgenstern.                                    to the bright morning star                 
Auch wer zur Nacht geweinet,                            And let him who wept during the night                    
der stimme froh mit ein.                                    join in gladly
Der Morgenstern bescheinet                               The morning star illuminates 
auch deine Angst und Pein.                                your fear and pain

Dem alle Engel dienen,                                     The one whom all angels serve
wird nun ein Kind und Knecht.                           now becomes a child and servant
Gott selber ist erschienen                                  God himself has appeared
zur Sühne für sein Recht.                                   as an atonement for his justice
Wer schuldig ist auf Erden,                                Whoever is guilt on earth
verhüll nicht mehr sein Haupt.                           doesn’t need to hide his face anymore

Er soll errettet werden,                                     He shall be saved
wenn er dem Kinde glaubt.                                that believes in the child

Die Nacht ist schon im Schwinden,                     The night is already in decline
macht euch zum Stalle auf!                               set out for the stable
Ihr sollt das Heil dort finden,                             You will find salvation there
das aller Zeiten Lauf                                         that has been announced by all times
von Anfang an verkündet,                                  since the beginning
seit eure Schuld geschah.                                  since your guilt began
Nun hat sich euch verbündet,                             Now he whom God himself predestined
den Gott selbst ausersah.                                   has allied himself with you

Noch manche Nacht wird fallen                          Many nights will yet fall
auf Menschenleid und -schuld.                           on human suffering and guilt
Doch wandert nun mit allen                               But now the star of God’s grace
der Stern der Gotteshuld.                                  walks with all
Beglänzt von seinem Lichte,                              Illuminated by his light
hält euch kein Dunkel mehr.                              Darkness can hold you no longer
Von Gottes Angesichte                                       from God’s countenance
kam euch die Rettung her.                                 salvation has come to you

Gott will im Dunkel wohnen                              God wants to live in the darkness
und hat es doch erhellt.                                    and in fact he has enlightened it
Als wollte er belohnen,                                     as if he intended to reward the world
so richtet er die Welt.                                       so does he judge it
Der sich den Erdkreis baute,                              He who himself made the world
der läßt den Sünder nicht.                                 does not abandon the sinner
Wer hier dem Sohn vertraute,                            Whoever here trusts the Son
kommt dort aus dem Gericht.”                            escapes judgment

Ich fahre sehr gerne nachts. 
Da ist so eine Stille im Auto, während man durch eine verschlafene Landschaft fährt, die sich ausruht und auf einen neuen Tag wartet.
Ich erinnere mich an eine Fahrten, die ich mich meiner Familie zu komischen Zeiten unternahm. Wir sind meistens nachts gefahren, da viele unserer Verwandten weit weg wohnten und wir deshalb immer früh losgefahren sind. Jeder war zwar verschlafen und still, aber so langsam kam das Leben in uns zurück.

Es ist interessant zu sehen, wie die Welt um dich herum aufwacht: ein tiefschwarzer Himmel zeigt erste Schatten des Lichts und dann bricht die Dämmerung durch.
Das zuerst Unsichtbare wird langsam sichtbar.
Ein neuer Tag liegt vor dir mit neuen Möglichkeiten, neuen Überraschungen, neuer Gnade.
Dieser Moment der Dämmerung ist eines der glücklichsten Gefühle, das ich kenne.

Wir feiern Advent und bereiten uns auf die Dämmerung vor. Auch wenn es sich oft nicht danach anfühlt.
In Deutschland sind November und Dezember die dunkelsten Monate: es wird um 5 Uhr dunkel, Leute sind schlechtgelaunt und müde.
Es scheint so, als ob die Welt sich schlafen legt.
Diese Monate sind die Zeit für Reflektion, wachsende Depression und Einsamkeit.
Statt Freude ist Verzweiflung und Hoffnungslosigkeit da.
Wir scheinen in der Dunkelheit zu leben.

In solchen Zeiten, wenn das Leben nur Dunkelheit zu sein scheint, erinnere ich mich an einen deutschen Choral mit kraftvollen Worten und einer noch krasseren Story dahinter.
Der Schreiber Jochen Klepper lebte in Nazideutschland und war mit einer jüdischen Frau verheiratet. Sie litten unter dem Nazisystem, aber wollten dem rassistischen Druck nicht nachgeben. Klepper verlor seinen Job, wurde in der Armee und im KZ gefoltert; am Ende beging die Familie Selbstmord, um der Trennung und weiteren Demütigungen zu entkommen. 

In der Mitte dieses Leidens war Kleppers Blick aber nicht auf die Dunkelheit gerichtet, die ihn umgab.
Er sprach nicht von Hoffnungslosigkeit und Verzweiflung.
Stattdessen weist er auf die ewige Hoffnung hin, die wir an Weihnachten feiern: ein kleines Kind kommt zur Welt, in diese Dunkelheit. Weil er es WILL.
Er wird unser Verbündeter – unser bester Freund, der alles aushält und mit uns in der Dunkelheit sitzt.
Aber er ist auch unser RETTER, der helle Morgenstern.
Sein Licht bedeckt unsere Dunkelheit, es macht das Unsichtbare sichtbar, damit KEINE Dunkelheit uns jemals zurückhalten könnte.
Während wir also durch diese Zeit der Dunkelheit und des Wartens gehen, sollen wir uns daran erinnern, dass die Dämmerung nahe ist und dass er, der mit uns in der Dunkelheit leben WILL, sie auch erhellen WIRD. Durch sich selbst, das lebendige Licht der Welt. 

[Waiting for Him] A Glimpse of Redemption

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!
In diesem Monat gibt es eine Serie über Advent und wie wir uns auf Weihnachten vorbereiten können. Hier gibt es mehr Infos über die Serie. Komm und sei dabei bei den Vorbereitungen und beim Warten!

“Now when these things begin to take place, 
straighten up and <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-25845BB" data-link="(BB)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>raise your heads, 
because <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-25845BC" data-link="(BC)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>your redemption is drawing near.” 
Luke 21:28

We celebrate Advent and Christmas in December, the last month of the year. 

For us it marks the end of a long year, full of work, stress, and challenges. 
We met so many new people and made new friends. 
Twelve months of joys and tears, of new beginnings and letting go of other things. 
Some dreams might have been shattered while other new memories were made. 
And now the year is almost over, after we survived the eating and present marathon at Christmas. 

This is our view of Christmas. 

But it might be interesting to look at where Advent and Christmas are placed in the church calendar. 
What we consider the last hoorah actually marks the beginning of a new year. 
The start of something new and different. 
Things are not over, they might just get better. 

During Advent we celebrate the coming of our savior. 

It is a reminder of an old story that took place about two thousand years ago. 
A story of hope. 
Of restoration. 
A savior was born into the ordinary, into the mess of this world. 

He spoke words of hope. 

Once again, the context of verse is interesting: It is part of a chapter that speaks of the end of the world and Jesus’ second return. It talks of destruction and fear. The savior who was present on earth at that time spoke about the promise that he would come back again.  “When these things begin to take place…”
A God who became a humble man is the reason people lifted their heads again. 

This savior didn’t just restore hope back then, he left us with an everlasting perspective. Advent is also an reminder of what’s to come. 

This same savior will return someday. 
He will heal and restore once again.

He will speak words of hope and encouragement in the midst of turmoil. 

“When these things begin to take place…” – when you’re worn out by life’s demands. 
When you feel overwhelmed by demands people have for you. 
When fear paralyzes your heart. 
When you experience loss. 
When you feel things have come to an end. 
When you’re blind for any beginnings. – “then straighten up and raise your heads because your redemption has drawn near.” 

This is the hope that Christmas brought for us. 

Redemption is not here yet in its fulness, but each and every day we get to see glimpses of it. 
It is not the end of a year or a life – it is just the beginning of something bigger. 
Something to hope for. 

So lift up your head. 

Some things might come to an end, but there are so many new things around you. 
What areas in your life seem barren and need redemption? 
Where have you looked towards the end and missed out on so many beginnings?
Allow your eyes to notice new life springing up. 
And allow your heart to hope for it again.

Wenn diese Dinge zu geschehen beginnen, 
richtet euch auf und fasst Mut, 
denn dann ist eure Erlösung nahe.
Lukas 21:28

Wir feiern Advent und Weihachten im Dezember, dem letzten Monat des Jahres.
Das bedeutet für uns das Ende eines langen Jahres voller Arbeit, Stress und Herausforderungen.
Wir haben so viele Leute kennengelernt und Freundschaften geschlossen.
Zwölf Monate voll Freude und Tränen, neuen Anfängen und Loslassen von anderen Dingen.
Manche Träume sind vielleicht zerbrochen, während neue Erinnerungen entstanden sind.
Und jetzt ist das Jahr fast vorbei, nachdem wir den Essens-und Geschenkemarathon an Weihnachten überlebt haben.
Das ist unser Bild von Weihnachten.

Es kann vielleicht interessant sein zu gucken, wo Advent und Weihnachten im Kirchenkalender verortet sind.
Was wir als letztes Hurra ansehen, ist eigentlich der Beginn eines neuen Jahres.
Der Beginn von etwas neuem und anderem.
Dinge sind nicht vorbei, es kann alles vielleicht nur noch besser werden.

Während dem Advent feiern wir das Kommen unseres Retters.
Es ist eine Erinnerung an eine alte Geschichte, die vor ca. 2000 Jahren geschah.
Eine Geschichte der Hoffnung.
Der Wiederherstellung.
Ein Retter wurde in die Einfachheit und Verrücktheit dieser Welt geboren.
Er sprach Worte der Hoffnung.
Wieder ist der Kontext des Verses interessant: Es ist aus einem Kapitel, das über das Ende der Welt redet und Jesus’ zweite Wiederkunft. Es geht um Zerstörung und Angst. Aber in der Zeit sprach der Retter zu dieser Erde über ein Versprechen, dass er wiederkommen würde. “Wenn diese Dinge geschehen werden…”
Ein Gott wird ein demütiger Mensch – das ist der Grund, warum Leute ihre Köpfe wieder erhoben.

Dieser Retter hat nicht nur damals Hoffnung wiederhergestellt, er gab uns eine ewige Perspektive. 
Advent ist also auch eine Erinnerung an das, was kommen wird.
Dieser gleiche Retter wird eines Tages wiederkommen.
Er wird wieder heilen und wiederherstellen.
Er wird Worte der Hoffnung und Ermutigung in der Mitte von Anfechtungen und Problemen sprechen.
“Wenn diese Dinge geschehen werden” – wenn du von den Anforderungen des Lebens erschöpft bist.
Wenn du überwältigst bist von den Ansprüchen, die andere an dich stellen.
Wenn Angst dein Herz lähmt.
Wenn du Verlust erfährst.
Wenn du blind für Neuanfänge bist.
– “dann steh auf und heb deinen Kopf, denn deine Erlösung ist nah.”

Das ist die Hoffnung, die Weihnachten für uns bringt.
Erlösung ist noch nicht vollkommen, aber jeden einzelnen Tag sehen wir einen Funken mehr davon.
Es ist nicht das Ende des Jahres oder des Lebens – es ist der Beginn von etwas Größerem.
Etwas, worauf man hoffen kann.
Also heb deinen Kopf.
Vielleicht gehen manche Dinge um dich herum zu Ende, aber es gibt auch so viel Neues.

Welche Bereiche in deinem Leben scheinen brach zu liegen und brauchen Erlösung?
Wo hast du eher aufs Ende geschaut und so viele Anfänge verpasst?
Erlaube deinen Augen, aufspringendes Leben wieder zu sehen.
Und erlaube deinem Herzen, wieder dafür zu hoffen.

[Five Minute Friday] Dear

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting! 
But it’s also Friday and I am linking up with Kate Motaung and many other fabulous writers. Come and join us! 
For Advent, there’s another link-up over at Story and Table, hosted by Laura. If you’re interested in more Advent stories, click here.

It’s that time of the year again. 
Christmas is approaching soon and fast, so you need to get your presents and cards all set. My family always used to have wishlists we would hang up on the refrigerator. 
Oh, what joy it was as children to scribble down all your wishes! And even greater joy when you found many of these things under the tree on Christmas Day.

We still do wishlists and I found it interesting to think a bit how they’ve changed with the years.
Dolls turned into books. Toys turned into clothes or perfume. 
But overall, it has become more difficult each year to sit down and write my wishes.

What do I want for Christmas? 
What do you want for Christmas?

We never really wrote letters to Santa, but how about writing a grown-up Christmas wish list?

Dear Santa,
When I look inside my heart I see longings. 
Lots of longings.
I wish for deep joy that would not depend on what happens.
I wish for justice in this world. 
Reconciliation and true peace.
I wish for the end of hunger and starvation. 
The end of slavery and prostitution. 
Freedom instead of human trafficking. 
I wish for close friends who stay and don’t always leave.
I wish for honesty and growth.
I wish for security and safety in my life. 
And in this world.
I wish to know where my path will lead and what my future will look like.

That’s a lot. 
And as a I think about it I realize a “Dear Santa” won’t do it. 
This isn’t just a Christmas wish list. 
This is supposed to be a yearning turned into prayer. 
A wish list addressed to the One who sees everything, is in everything, and whose heart longs for these things probably as much as we do.
Not just on Christmas, but all year-round.

Dear Lord, 
you know my heart that is so full of longings. 
Ultimately, these longings point to you, the One who can fulfill all these longings. 
Let Christmas come this year to the hungry, the suffering, the poor. 
And let us trust you a bit more with this world and our lives. 

[Waiting for Him] The Best Part about Waiting

This month I am doing a series on Advent and preparing ourselves for Christmas. You can find more info on the series here. Come and join us for a month of getting ready and waiting!

In diesem Monat gibt es eine Serie über Advent und wie wir uns auf Weihnachten vorbereiten können. Hier gibt es mehr Infos über die Serie. Komm und sei dabei bei den Vorbereitungen und beim Warten!


I guess as a child you have the most vivid memories of Christmas.
Waking up to the first snow in the morning.
Making presents and smiling at the thought of the receivers.
Writing your wishlist and hoping to find many of these wishes under the tree.
Crafting Christmas cards and sending happy words around the world.
Baking cookies and getting a first taste of Christmas.
Practicing a Christmas musical with the kids choir and getting more excited with every rehearsal.

Waiting seems to be part of Advent. 
While you prepare you wait.
While you rehearse you wait.
This can be pretty hard, especially for a child.
It can be hard for adults, too.
We might be better at waiting, but we are so busy that we don’t even have time to wait.
We are so caught up in preparing and baking and doing that we forget to be.
Be excited for what’s to come.
Allow that Christmas joy and spirit to fill us and get us through the dark winter days, the lack of sunshine, or the business.

Waiting is not about wasting.
We are not losing time or energy while waiting.
We are actually cultivating a spirit and a habit that can be pretty helpful in life.
Using waiting time well and intentionally is a virtue worth developing. 
And Advent might just be a good practice for that.

One of my favorite waiting times in Advent is Christmas Eve.
In Germany it is THE holiday when you go to church, have a fancy dinner with the family, and open presents. And in our family this also means seeing the Christmas tree for the first time.
You won’t believe it, but I’ve never decorated a Christmas tree in my life. 
And I am not sure I want to. Ever since we were born my Dad would set up the tree on the 23rd and decorate at night. No one is allowed to go into the living room on the 24th.

This might sound cruel to some of you and your traditions might be different, but I kind of like it.
These hours on Christmas Eve are special. It gives you time to
reflect, to feel excitement rush through your body, to laugh out loud, to be foolish with your siblings while waiting (yes, we’re all grown-up and don’t mind at all!).

Our waiting is never in vain. The result is always worth it.
At night, after church and dinner, Dad lights the candles (yes, real candles on a real tree!) and we all go in together, singing and laying our presents under the tree. It has always been like that and there still is that kind of magic I don’t want to let go of.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? How do you spend your waiting time? 

Als Kind hat man wohl die lebhaftesten Erinnerungen an Weihnachten.
Am Morgen den ersten Schnee entdecken.
Geschenke basteln und mit Lachen an den Empfänger denken.
Den Wunschzettel schreiben und hoffen, dass sich viel davon unterm Baum wieder findet.
Karten basteln und Wünsche in die ganze Welt zu schicken.
Plätzchen backen und das erste Mal Weihnachten schmecken.
Ein Weihnachtsmusical einstudieren mit dem Kinderchor und mit jeder Probe ein bisschen mehr Aufregung spüren.

Warten scheint Teil des Advents zu sein.
Während man vorbereitet, wartet man.
Während man probt, wartet man.
Das kann ganz schön hart sein, vor allem für ein Kind.
Aber auch für Erwachsene.
Wir können vielleicht besser warten, sind aber so beschäftigt, dass wir gar keine Zeit zum Warten haben.
Wir sind so in den Vorbereitungen, Backen und Tun gefangen, dass wir vergessen zu sein.
Keine Zeit, um uns auf das zu freuen, was kommt.
Die Weihnachtsfreude und Atmosphäre hineinzulassen und durch die dunklen Wintertage, wenig Sonne und volle Tage zu uns durchzudringen.

Aber Warten ist keine Verschwendung.
Wir verlieren keine Zeit oder Energie, während wir warten.
Wir kultivieren eher einen Geist und eine Gewohnheit, die im Leben ziemlich hilfreich sein können.
Wenn wir Wartezeiten gut und bewusst nutzen können, ist das eine Angewohnheit, die wir entwickeln und fördern sollten.

Eine meiner liebsten Wartezeiten im Advent ist Heiligabend.
In Deutschland ist das DER Feiertag, an dem man in die Kirche geht, ein gutes Abendessen mit der Familie hat und dann Geschenke auspackt. In unserer Familie heißt das auch, dass man dann den Weihnachtsbaum zum ersten Mal sieht.
Vielleicht kannst du es dir nicht vorstellen, aber ich habe noch nie einen Weihnachtsbaum geschmückt.
Und ich weiß auch nicht, ob ich es unbedingt will. Seit ich denken kann, hat mein Dad den Baum am 23. aufgestellt und nachts geschmückt. Keiner durfte am 24. ins Wohnzimmer schauen.
Für manchnen hört sich das komisch und grausam an, aber unsere Traditionen sind eben anders. 
Diese Stunden am Heiligabend ist was besonderes. Während man wartet, hat man Zeit nachzudenken, Aufregung im ganzen Körper zu spüren, laut zu lachen und Dummheiten mit den Geschwistern zu machen (ja, mittlerweile sind wir alle erwachsen, aber das ist egal!). 

Warten ist nicht umsonst. Das Ergebnis lohnt sich immer.
Am Abend nach Kirche und Essen zündet Dad die Kerzen an (ja, echte Kerzen am echten Baum!) und wir gehen zusammen ins Wohnzimer, singen und legen unsere Geschenke unter den Baum.
Das war schon immer so und es ist immer noch eine Art Zauber daran, den ich nicht lüften möchte.

Was sind deine Lieblingsweihnachtstraditionen? Wie verbringst du Wartezeiten?