Since I am behind (I actually started behind), I want to discuss the Advent calendar I am encouraging you to use. You should be able to find it in the link I included in the information below. Primarily I want to talk about the pattern it sets, and I want to talk about the flexibility of that pattern, and I want to give you a few thoughts on the first three days (That you most likely have already missed).
The pattern, or rule of life, that this calendar sets out is not a form of self-help; it is not some method of living your life to be more efficient, make better decisions, or find happiness. In fact, in some cases, it may have the opposite effect. But what the people who developed this idea intended was a life that reflected that of Jesus. In other words, all elements of this pattern are based on Jesus' life as reflected in scripture. The advent Calendar begins first in worship and then proceeds forward with a different aspect or different practice for each day. It does not intend for you to engage in that spiritual practice for every moment of the day but to find an opportunity for a few minutes each day. The elements as ordered in the advent calendar are Worship, Go, Learn, Pray, Turn, Bless, and Rest. These seven practices fit well in our seven-day week, and therefore we begin on Sunday with Worship. Here we gather as a community, give thanks, hear the word of God, confess and offer the brokenness of the world to God, and are formed into the body of Christ.
On Mondays, the second element Go encourages us to cross life's boundaries and intentionally enter unfamiliar territory. This practice inspires us to listen to others and for God's presence and join God to offer healing in a hurting world.
Tuesday, we are asked to open ourselves particularly to scripture, especially the life and teaching of Jesus. However, as you familiarize yourself with the pattern, you might simply learn something new, read, watch a documentary, or find something new to familiarize yourself with and seek what God would have you learn.
Next, we focus on prayer on Wednesday. Here we open ourselves to listen for the presence of God in our lives specifically. To reflect on the people in our hearts and minds, to listen to our desires and wishes, and to dwell with God.
On Thursdays, we focus on blessing by practicing generosity and compassion. Our actions bless others, rooted in the pattern already outlined in the previous days; we seek to give, forgive, teach and heal. We share the good news specifically in our actions.
Fridays are a day that we pause to listen and TURN and choose to follow Jesus. We ask God's help so that we can turn from the powers of sin, hatred, fear, and injustice, those things that separate us from God.
Finally, on Saturday, we choose a few moments to rest. We seek to restore and again make ourselves whole, physically, mentally, and spiritually. So whatever that may be, intentionally choose rest. Without rest, we cannot fully be who God is calling us to be without engaging God's ancient pattern of rest.
On Sunday, we return to worship and repeat this pattern for the entirety of Advent. As you become familiar with the pattern, you may choose to use it throughout the year. Or you may find that it does not work for you, and that is okay. You may find that, by tailoring to your specific lifestyle, it works better. You may choose a different order. Or you might decide to do multiple elements in one day. What we know, because this pattern is based on what we read about Jesus in scripture, is that we may begin to reflect the life of Jesus in our lives, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Following the advent Calendar, you may have already missed the first three days, Worship, Go, and Learn. Sunday, November 28th, asked us to read the Gospel lesson for Sunday and then reflect on the signs and symbols we use during Advent that put us in a watchful, waiting posture. Advent candles, greenery, and the blue of our altar frontals could all be considered signs and symbols. How do those signs help you look and watch for the coming Christ?
On Monday, November 30th, you were asked to go out of your way to have a conversation with someone you may not have otherwise noticed and open yourself to hear this person as God might hear them.
On Tuesday, today, the calendar asks you to read with new eyes Matthew 4:18-22, the calling of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Perhaps read multiple translations and note if the different translations cause you to see the passage differently. Using the inspiration of this passage, how might you read scripture differently, listening for the call of Jesus?