Advent Practices

Last Sunday we kicked off a new liturgical year, which means we have officially entered the season of Advent.  This is a season where we dwell on hope, waiting, expectation, and preparation to once again welcome the Christ child.  During Advent, we learn to wait for the incarnation of God that we celebrate on Christmas day, but our waiting is not meant to be passive. 

We watch for signs.  We notice the ways God is already working in our world (perhaps using all of our senses).  And we prepare our lives to make room for Christ to dwell with us.

During Lent, one of the other major seasons of the Church calendar, a lot of emphasis is put on practices and disciplines, but I don’t think we spend much time talking about these sorts of things during Advent even though both seasons call us to practices of deep awareness of God in their own way.  There is no Advent equivalent to the standard Lenten question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  I know not everyone practices “giving up” something for Lent, but maybe we need a standard Advent question that reminds us that hope is a practice. 

Maybe this time of year, we should all be asking one another, “How are you noticing God this Advent?”

So how will you practice your “waiting” this Advent?  What practices of preparation will you commit to as ways of slowing down and opening yourselves to signs of God? 

There is a free downloadable resource put out by Mennonite Church USA that offers some good ideas and starting points.  You can download it HERE.  It is geared toward households with children, but there are plenty of good suggestions for faith formation practices that know no age limit.