The e-mails flying back and forth create a picture, comical yet somehow sad: "would love to see you all, but can't do tomorrow, maybe the 10th?" and "I can't do the 10th, how about the 19th?"

Five of us, my closest girlfriends, are trying to find a time to get together during December. Just us, we wouldn't even dare attempt trying to include spouses or kids. So far we have intentions, but no two-hour window when all of us are free.

Our calendars groan under the weight of obligations. The church calendar, meanwhile, declares the season of Advent ( from the Latin adventus, "coming"), a season of waiting. More than a countdown to Christmas, Advent anticipates—not just a day of feasting and presents, but the quiet miracle of the Incarnation.

How do we care for our souls in Advent? How do we watch for the light of Jesus? For ministry leaders, everything from children's Christmas pageants to planning multiple Christmas services can make December a time of stress and busyness that leaves us ...

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