I love Advent for many reasons:
- Advent is the start of a new Church/liturgical year. I think of the liturgical year as the annual pilgrimage we make as the Church and as individuals through the stories of our spiritual ancestors. Every year we read through a cycle of biblical stories in the Old and New Testaments to get the big picture of salvation history. Every year I have a family reunion with Abraham, Sarah, David, Mary, Jesus, Paul, Peter….But since I am a slightly different person than I was the year before, I see these spiritual relatives with a different set of eyes. They teach me new things about God and God’s work in my life and in the world.
- Cooler weather and darker days in November and December invite me to hunker down and go inward. These are the perfect physical conditions for a time of reflection and preparation for Christmas, for a new birth of Jesus in my heart and in my life.
- Advent engages all of the senses. It emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. In Advent we wait and prepare and hope for a flesh and blood savior. Jesus will come into our down-and-dirty world and meet us as we are. So we wait and prepare not just with our heads and our hearts but with our bodies–our eyes, ears, noses, fingers, arms, legs….
- Advent is not just a preparation for Christmas. It is preparation for the whole year. Advent teaches us how to be attentive, hopeful, and patient people for the long haul. The practices we begin in Advent fill our spiritual backpacks. They equip and energize us for our annual spiritual pilgrimage and kingdom-building partnership with God.
For years during Advent I read a daily meditation book and the Scriptures associated with Advent and Christmas. I still do this. But when I wrote The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Extremist two years ago, I wanted to celebrate Advent not just in my head, but with all of my senses. This book invites the whole body into the preparation for Christmas. Although many of the activities could be used with a church group, they are designed for celebrating Advent at home.
Most of the activities in the book can be adapted for individuals, adults, children, and families—purple or blue lights, activities with Advent vocabulary, Praying in Color ideas, various Advent calendars including a “live” Advent calendar in a narcissus or amaryllis bulb, simple Advent wreaths, an echo pantomime of Advent characters…. Here is a collage of some of the ideas in the book.
If you would like to order the book, click on the picture below.