By Lilly Lewin
Advent is a great time to put rhythm into your life, and Celtic Advent starts next week! November 16th. I like starting Advent early because it allows me time to prepare Him Room! Advent allows me time to prepare my heart for the arrival of Jesus! The Celtic Christians, and Orthodox Christians allow 40 days to prepare for the Nativity, just like Lent is 40 days of preparation before Easter. What kind of rhythm do you need in your life as the holidays begin?
Rhythm is a part of God’s creation…a part of how God designed the universe.
Day and night
Sun and moon
Changing of the seasons
All of these help us remember and help us have time and space in our daily routine to rest, reflect, listen, remember, rejoice and worship the Creator.
Sadly our culture in the West, especially America has forgotten rhythm. And sadly, we’ve corrupted the rest of the world with our 24-7 mentality.
We expect to be able to shop, eat out, see movies whenever we want.
We don’t expect to rest ….so we don’t.
We have been schooled that a full calendar means you are successful. And REST is not valued.
And especially during the holidays we want to have our calendars filled with parties and events so no one gets bored.
What if that’s not the best way according to the Creator?
What if God had something better in mind from the first days of the world?
God set up the rhythm of the world…six days creating and one day resting.
Who says we are bigger and know better than God?
What would happen if we made REST and RHYTHM parts of our Advent practice this year? What would that even look like? What would you need to add in or subtract from your calendar in order to find rhythm before Christmas this year?
How could you practice slowing down and finding rhythm rather than living into the crazy busyness of the season? How would you practice REST in the midst of the holidays?
Some ideas to try:
TAKE A WALK Something as simple as TAKING A WALK could add rhythm and rest to your day. And a walk can be done with your dog, your spouse, your roommate, a friend and or with your kids. And not just taking a walk for exercise, but taking a walk to connect with God. Taking a walk to be with Jesus outside, in Creation. Take a walk and take time to notice what is going on in nature. Notice the plants, the sky, the birds, and even the bugs along the way! Take time to BREATHE!
TAKE A NAP Actually TAKE A NAP. I saw a plaque at a craft show that said “Jesus took Naps, I want to be like Jesus!” (Mark 4:38) What if we actually allowed ourselves the time to take a nap. When my kids were little I would try to get as much done as possible while they slept. Now I think the healthier thing to do might be to take a nap too! Or even just give yourself permission to lie down on the couch or your bed for 15 minutes with no agenda! Just to be. I believe REST is holy so taking 15 minutes would be taking holy time! Taking a nap like Jesus even in the middle of the holiday storm!
TAKE TIME TO LIGHT A CANDLE. Many of us create or use Advent Wreaths during Advent. The traditional Advent Wreath consists of a circle of evergreen greenery representing eternal life and eternity and 4 candles to be lit one at a time, adding a candle each week as the weeks go on. On Christmas, a white center candle is often added as the Christ candle to signify Jesus’s birth. There are various meanings for the candles. I grew up with the candles meaning Prophet, Bethlehem, Shepherd, and Angel, but some traditions have the candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Some church traditions use three purple candles (purple is the liturgical color for Advent signifying royalty) and one pink (week 3 for Joy), but I tend to use four dark red candles just because I like that better than purple and pink! I have also used all white candles too. I also saw a fun centerpiece at Target that I might use this year for something different, candles in a row rather than in the round.
If you choose to start Advent early, you might create something different for the first two weeks and then go to the more traditional Advent wreath on the first Sunday of Advent, December 3rd in 2017. One year I started with fall colors before traditional Advent began and then took out the brown ones and removed the leaves and left the dark green for my wreath. Last week we created a centerpiece of Thankfulness. We lit the candles for things we are thankful for. I filled a container with sand and then used birthday candles for our prayer candles. We are doing this as a reminder to be grateful as we approach Thanksgiving here in the States.
Even more simply, you might just add a single candle to your day. Light a candle with your coffee cup or your cup of tea as a way to pause and create rhythm in your day. Taking time to consider how you might prepare your heart for Jesus and his birth. Or you might Light a candle when the kids come home from school and take a couple of minutes to thank God for the day. Have the kids take turns lighting the candle or candles and saying what they are thankful for today, or where they felt God’s love during the day. This could be a great practice before homework begins.
How would you like to add rhythm and rest to your life this Advent? I’d love to hear what you discover as you walk, nap, and light candles in the weeks to come!