Now that Christmas Day is over I find myself reflecting on the practices I established over this season of celebration and what kept my faith alive. As many of you know I started a practice several years ago of planting an Advent garden to give me focus. Then I added a week for gratitude. I filled it with candles and painted rocks.
This year I took this practice even further. At our preAdvent retreat I chose five themes for the coming weeks and painted them on rocks so that I would have a different focus for each week. My themes were a little different from the traditional Advent themes – I chose gratitude, grace, peace, life and love. This week I replaced the red candles with white ones and added another couple of painted rocks with joy and hope written on them to provide focus for the 12 days of Christmas. This has made that one of the most meaningful Advent and Christmas seasons I have ever had.
What is Your Response?
Now that the Christmas rush is over, take time to think back over the practices you established for the season. What was most meaningful for you? What helped you focus your faith on what really matters at this season? What gave you stability and peace during this season? How could you improve this in the coming years?
Part of what I loved about this practice was the way it grew as Christmas approached. My weekly theme became a phrase that prompted me to pray, and this week I am adding scriptures. It has been a living expression of faith that I am sure will have implications for the year ahead. Here is what my practice has become:
Lord today I come to you with gratitude.
- for all the blessings of life – for family and friends, for joy in work, for resilience in the face of adversity….
- (this list changes each day as I think about what God has given me to be grateful for).
Lord today I come to you aware of your grace.
- poured out on me, in me, through me.
- Grace that forgives when I do not deserve it, grace that guides patiently when I resist, grace that leads me into wholeness….
Lord today I come to you desiring peace.
- peace within to calm and centre my soul.
- peace to strengthen my community.
- peace to fill our world, especially…..
Lord today I come to you seeking to be filled with love
- love that is patient and kind.
- love that is generous and giving.
- love that forgives all things and casts out fear……
Lord today I come to you to share your life.
- life fully expressed in Jesus our redeemer.
- life from the One who is the way, the truth and the life.
- life emerging where there has been darkness in me, in those I love and in our world….
Lord today I come to you filled with joy.
- Joy for a saviour who came and moved into our neighbourhood.
- Joy for new birth, new possibilities for the future….
Lord today I come to you finding hope.
- Hope in the promise that you are indeed making all things new.
- Hope in the seeds you have planted that are beginning to grow…..
Sit with your own practice, listen to this wonderful Christmas song and allow God to grow and expand your appreciation of this season. What new things might God say to you through this?