Author’s Note: The irony of the fact that this essay about Advent is being transmitted to you, good reader, across the internet, is not lost on me. *wink*
For you I wait all the day long. -Psalm 25:5
Everybody’s “doing” Advent out there on the Internet. The questions abound: How do you “do” Advent? How do you mark this time? What do you do with the kids? What do you do with your small group? Are there candles and readings involved? Do you do a couples’ devotional or attempt to pray the hours or recite the Magnificat daily? How do you do it? How? How? HOW?
The blogosphere and Pinterest and Instagram have utterly exploded with ways to DO Advent, the season of being still and waiting with anticipation for the coming of the King. Some days, I feel like the Internet is actually screaming at me to GET STILL AND GET QUIET ALREADY BECAUSE IT IS ADVENT AND YOU BETTER PICK YOUR WAY TO DO IT WITH YOUR FAMILY QUICKLY OR YOU WILL MISS OUT ON ALL OF THE WAITING!
Pinterest-inspired daily crafts and calendars and Jesse’s tree readings and ornaments on the dedicated tree and specific devotional books and old fashioned paper chains with verses from Luke on them and nightly devotionals and praying the hours and and and and and. . . . . . Truly, these things are wonderful and impactful and meaningful.
I’ve tried them all. I’ve DONE it. Frankly, I’ve done it all badly. And I am exhausted. Kudos to the families that can make doing these types of Advent adventures joyful and meaningful and consistent. My hat is off to you and I want to sit and have you teach me how to make it happen in my house. But, for this season, I know my particular limitations. So, I’m DONE.
The truth of the matter is, I can “do” advent with these four wild boys of mine until about December 16. Then, we collectively lose momentum. They start to lose focus with the long ritual or get squirrelly when we are trying to be serious. Or there are evening events that interrupt our flow or quick trips to the store for ingredients for gingerbread houses or to pick up a gift card to contribute to the holiday service project, or someone invariably gets the flu or. . . you get the idea.
So this year, this family is calling it quits on DOING Advent.
Instead, we are going to attempt to LIVE Advent.
We will wait. We will yearn. We will anticipate. We will BE. Not DO. Be. . . . . messy, imperfect, loud, antsy, forgetful, sinful folks who are doing the best they can to love their God and their people well in a world that screams that sometimes even waiting for a Savior can be made into performance art.
Instead of just reading about being still and knowing He’s coming, we are going to try to BE still and know that He is coming. Instead of hanging the special ornament on the tree after a veritable dissertation on the genealogy of Jesus that makes even the most devoted Biblical scholar twitchy, we are going to look for natural ways to talk about His character and read Scripture about how the world was waiting for a Messiah. Instead of doing a craft a day to mark the time, we are just simply counting down the days.
We will wait. With anticipation. For the coming of the King.
I am not totally immune.
Just in case you thought I would ignore both the marking of the season AND the siren song of the Internet, our family is reading a short scripture and discussing a question related to Advent each morning at breakfast. Or at dinner, in the extremely likely event that we forget in the morning. And then we will hang each question card on a garland with a mini clothespin that I saw on Pinterest (because, you know, even Pinterest offers help for those lazy and lame, like me). But this! This I can do. I can do simple. Easy. Impactful. And most importantly, realistic for this craft-deficient Christian momma who lacks some serious follow-through, but really loves the journey of waiting for Jesus.
But it might be best to check in with me on December 17th. For accountability’s sake, naturally.
Advent is always. It is not just a season. -Richard Rohr