I’ve been thinking a lot about tradition and ritual (read chapter two of Stained Glass Ceilings if you want to know why). If there’s any season that makes us turn to these things, it’s Advent–which starts tomorrow. Some of us enter this season with warm and happy memories, but for others, the memories are difficult, confusing, and even painful. Some of us feel all of the things all at once and don’t quite know what to do with it all.
All of us could use some fresh rhythms and, as I argue in the book, better storytelling.
So, as we prepare for the coming weeks, I’ve been thinking about how to move this direction. Specifically, I want to nurture practices that hold space for tension, joy and lament, celebration and repentance. Resources that encourage these postures are hard to find. Believe me, I’ve been looking for years. Happily, I’ve found a few that I’ll be using in some way with our family or in the various communities that we participate in during the coming weeks:
Weekly Summary Videos: Northern Seminary shares this set of lovely and accessible (read: short enough to hold my teenagers’ attention) videos. Nijay Gupta re-centers Mary as an active and thoughtful agent of the Gospel in his treatment of Hope. Scot McKnight reminds us that Christians are called to be active “agents of peace” in a violent world. Amy Peeler and Joyce Dalrymple weigh in with thoughts on joy and love.
Art and Contemplation: Nicely aligned with Scot’s call for a more robust notion of peace, Pax offers a beautiful resource called “Waiting with Imagination.” It pairs challenging poetry and artwork with contemplative practice suggestions and pieces with titles like “Jesus Among the Insurrectionists” and “Praying While Cooking” (scroll down until you see “Waiting With Imagination”).
Art Journals: Speaking of artwork, this inexpensive Advent Art Journal guides contemplation through visual art. Or you could DIY it. Writing your own prompts could be a meaningful practice in itself. I did a Lent version with a group a few years ago, but it seems especially appropriate for this Advent season of waiting.
Countdown printable: For the less artistically-inclined among us, here’s a free color-able advent count-down.
Feeling Crafty?: These origami stars are easy (trust me. I have no origami skills and very little patience) and therapeutic. Also a great way to re-purpose old books pages. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, try these recycled paper Swedish stars too.
Snacks: One traditional custom I’m not giving up on is the cookies and cinnamon rolls, but last year a friend shared this recipe for more-savory Seedy Scandanavian Crisps. The cranberry and oregano/thyme combo might sound strange, but don’t skip either.
Have you found any meaningful resources for this time of year? What practices give you life for the complex present moment and/or honor the parts of the past that you value?
While you think about it, here are some pictures of us making cookies with the Ohio grandparents.