It’s a week to go until Advent Sunday and I find myself ‘preparing to prepare’. Advent is traditionally a time of preparation: as we get ready for Christmas we think about what it means for God to appear on earth in human form. We look at elements of the story leading up to Christ’s birth. It’s also traditionally a season of penitence when we look at our own lives, reflect on our shortcomings, ask God’s forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to renew us again.
The Church calendar gives us special seasons during which Christians have traditionally taken time out to focus on their journey with Christ and Advent is one of them. Yet in reality, for us December is often a particularly busy month, filled with commitments and to-do lists. The idea of taking time for a full retreat and getting away from it all to focus on our spiritual lives can be rather ironic!
Notwithstanding the frenzy of cooking, socialising and present-buying that the season often brings, many of us still want to make sure that these special times of year do not pass us by. I for one want to commune with the festivities and enjoy all the sparkles, literally and metaphorically, but I also hanker after the space to retreat and make my penitential journey as I prepare for the great festival of the nativity.
So I invite you to join me in an Advent retreat, but one that can realistically be followed in the course of daily life, acknowledging that time is often at a premium and there’s no point beating ourselves up about it. Starting next Sunday, I’m going to be spending 10-15 mins a day journalling with Scripture though the season of Advent. Based on traditional Advent readings, I’ve given each of the 4 ‘weeks’ a theme and chosen Scripture that leads me through the story up to the birth of Christ. I’m going to be considering key verses and trying to see it from the point of view of the characters who were involved. Starting with Isaiah, I’m going to be looking at the journeys of Mary, Elizabeth and the Shepherds, and thinking about some of the things the angels had to say. I’m going to be using colours and images to help me focus, and to see if the journeys of those Bible folks can inform my own journey.
Looking at the diary for the coming weeks, I wonder if this is a foolish aim. Am I setting myself up to fail? But I’m past beating myself up! Experience tells me that the key to this (or any other enterprise) is preparing to prepare! So Over the coming week I’ll be setting up my journal, sticking in the notes, edging the pages, colouring the backgrounds and anything else that will make an inviting space for me to read, pray and journey with the Lord through the coming season.
I’ve produced a kit of study notes, journal and materials, and I’ve made some for you too if you would like them. I’ll be posting videos through the season to share my journey and ideas. Why not join the community on Facebook group and share yours! I’ve put some links below so you can join in if you want to.
Are we really too busy to take full advantage of the season of Advent? Are we happy for it to get swallowed up in the ever-earlier frenzy that is Christmas? I for one am not. I love Advent as a season and once again this year I’m going to try and make the most of it. I may not manage all I set out for, but I will manage something and I know I’ll be glad I did!
- A5 journal for you to decorate as you wish,
- Introduction to Advent, notes on taking a retreat in daily life and tips for creative Bible journalling
- Bible journalling notes for each week of Advent
- 2 x gold foiled washi tapes
- bumper sticker pack
- cardstock pieces
- mini wreath kit
- Christmas treats
- 2 sets of sticky notes