Advent is my favorite season of the Church year. For me, it is like a many-sided, many-faceted star. I tried to write a coherent paragraph or two about its many facets, but the words collided and fell in a boring, incoherent heap. So I decided to just brainstorm all of the things that come to mind when I think about Advent. So many juicy words and only twenty-six days to ponder them….
Using an Advent calendar is my favorite way to ponder and pay attention during the four weeks of Advent. Unlike the store-bought versions, my calendars have no doors, just blank spaces for the days of Advent. Each day I fill one space with a prayer or meditation– in words, doodles, and color. The daily practice of drawing on the calendar gives me a creative and simple way to immerse myself in the Advent experience and to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25. The accumulation of daily doodlings forms a colorful tapestry and a record of my spiritual journey for the weeks leading up to Christmas. This practice feels prayerful and playful. No artistic skill is necessary! (Examples from previous years are at the bottom of the post.)
2020 Advent Calendar Templates
To download, click on the links below the Calendars. When the image appears as a google doc, click on the download button at the top (the square with the downward facing arrow). Download first; then print. Feel free to share the calendar templates with others, for individual or group use. I think I have resolved the “gray” background issue that some of the templates in the past had. Please Share this post on your social media platforms. Thanks. These templates are also on my Handouts Page.
Note: Some school system emails do not allow downloads from unknown webpages. If you are from a school or church and having trouble, try using your personal/home email to download the templates. You can also contact me from the Contact Page.
Ways to Use the Calendar Templates
1) Write the name of someone for whom you are praying in the space. Doodle around the name, add color. Think of each stroke of color or each doodled mark (line, dot, arc, spiral…) as a wordless prayer. If words come to you as you draw and color, pray them. Squeeze them onto the calendar in the shape or along the margins if they feel important. When you have finished with your daily entry, say “Amen” or recite a short passage of Scripture appropriate to Advent like “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” (Psalm 27:1) This tiny colorful mosaic creates a frame around the person’s name. Returning to the calendar each day is a visual reminder to pray for each person again.
2) Choose a word from your daily reading. Combine your calendar with one of the many wonderful Advent books of meditations and reflections. Read the entry for the day and choose a word that jumps out at you. Write it in the shape and start to doodle and color around it. Marinate in the word. What is the word saying to you? What does God have to say to you about the word? Keep a computer or notebook next to your calendar so you can write any insights or “ahas.”
3) Write and ponder an Advent word: prepare, wait, pregnant, hope, watch, darkness, wilderness, longing, light… as you doodle and color. #AdventWord, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary, offers a new word each day and the chance to see how others throughout the world have reflected on the word.
4) Write something you hope for each day. Advent is a season of hope. Offer that idea to God as you draw, write, and color.
5) Celebrate the Women and Men of the Bible. Choose a different person for each day and learn what they did and why they are important to our story and God’s story. As you draw, be quiet and listen to what these people might reveal to you about Jesus and God .
6) Write one of the many names for Jesus in the daily box. Here are a few of the many ways we refer to Jesus: savior, messiah, friend, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel…. Use the Bible, Handel’s Messiah, Christmas carols, and hymns to uncover those names. Pray and ponder how that name for Jesus stirs, affects, annoys, delights, or inspires you.
7) Choose a word from the daily lectionary readings for the season. Here is a link to the Vanderbilt University site for the daily readings.
8) Just color and doodle in the space. For smaller children, print the calendar on 11″x17″ paper to create larger spaces. (I do this for myself, too.) Light a battery-powered votive candle and give them a quiet, secret place to work.
Advent Calendars From Previous Years
“Veni” Grid Calendar by Cindy O.
I like to enlarge the 8.5″x11″ format to 11″x17″ card stock. It gives me more room to doodle and color and consequently more time and space with the person or word.
Thanks to Cindy O. for the 2020 Box/Grid Calendar template.