This morning’s post comes from Michelle Wade. Michelle Wade is a Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunty, Friend and Anglican Priest, who lives and loves in Melbourne, Australia.
Advent Spirituality – love, joy, peace and hope
My deepening interest in Advent Spirituality skyrocketed the year my life fell apart! It was November: if I got out of bed, fed the children and got us all dressed, it was a good day. I latched on to Advent in desperation to reclaim some beauty and holiness in my life: to reclaim moments of love, joy, peace and hope. Children are good at all those things, and so at ages 2 and 4 years, my children unwittingly led me into the richness of the Advent Season.
The thing with 2 and 4 year olds, is that they don’t yet know the story! So it was obvious that our Family Advent Rituals had to be about telling the story of Jesus’ birthday. For us adults, what I discovered is that re-hearing and re-telling the story is so much more than remembering the various characters and events. Indeed, the more familiar the story is to us, the more we seem to enter into it, to be able to experience the wonder and excitement of the first Christmas as if we were right there with the angels, shepherds, wise men and holy family! Sometimes Joseph gains superpowers and flies around the room ‘killing baddies’. Yesterday Mary turned into Zena Warrior Princess! So it may not be a fault proof way of teaching God’s story, but it does fill the house with excitement and an eagerness for knowing!
Each Sunday evening in Advent, we gather around the meal table with whatever friends and family we can muster, though the first Sunday in Advent is reserved as a special time with the children’s Godparents. The food is simple – it’s not the point of being together; the phone is on silent; electronic devices are off. There is a bible verse and prayer written on a little scroll tucked in beside the candle, as well as a Christmas decorations to hang on the tree, remembering the character in the story which the candle remembers. Angels, shepherds, wise men and the holy family come to reside in our Christmas tree! In fact, our Christmas Tree plays host to the whole cast of the Nativity Story, as we add a new nativity ornament each day. (I’m the only person I know who has sheep and cows on their Christmas tree!) The boys go on a tree treasure hunt each morning, to find the little bible reading scroll for the day, like a giant advent calendar, and another moment of telling God’s story arises!
Each moment is so short – 5 minutes plus whatever play the children initiate! But they are the most precious moments of December. I don’t just hear the story, I experience it in the growing awakening of my children– love, joy, peace and hope! These are the theological words for Advent Spirituality. Family cuddles and quiet conversations, listening attentively to the bible readings, and rowdy nativity role plays are Advent Spirituality truly lived.