It’s hard to imagine, but a new year has begun! Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical (Christian Church) year. In the midst of staying home and many uncertainties, I’m pondering what I can do to mark this new season. What does it mean to wait expectantly and to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas and his return?
1. Since 2001, Goshen College has offered Advent and Lent devotionals written by students, faculty, and staff. You can subscribe to get these devotionals delivered right to your inbox.
2. For families with children, there’s the “Advent at Home 2020” resources available on the Mennonite Church USA website. These resources center around the use of an Advent wreath, a worship ritual, and a shared project that continues throughout Advent.
3. This year my household is doing a few daily activities to mark the countdown to Christmas. Our preschooler has a wooden Advent calendar marking off the days until Christmas, and we’re continuing my favorite tradition: opening a Christmas book each night of Advent. Local libraries and thrift shops are great sources of Christmas books if you want to try this at home. We’ve already read the story of Christ’s birth several times. Last year I sewed simple bags out of fun Christmas fabric which helps me feel like this tradition has become a bit more environmentally friendly as well.
4. Commit to regular Advent worship. The 4 Sundays of Advent began last week and many churches are following a theme (for many MC USA congregations it’s “On the Road…”) and if you/your family are not regular worship attenders, this is a set period of time to commit to weekly worship in preparation for Christmas. One beauty of this time of pandemic is that most churches have recordings of their services available if you miss a week and want to catch up at some time other than Sunday morning.
5. Finally, I want to leave you with a word of grace from Talashia Keim Yoder (the writer of the Advent at Home materials). She encourages families to “Fit this material to your household. If all your household can manage is a daily lighting of candles and singing a song or saying a sentence prayer, that is enough! Or, maybe in this pandemic year you feel adrift without the events that normally give structure to December and want to incorporate multiple ideas into your At Home worship.” She also encourages flexibility and let go of our ideas of “perfection” in this season, instead focusing on persistence. May we all be persistent this season and let go of our need for perfection as we wait expectantly for Jesus–our source of true joy.