I’ve written about Advent resources before, and social media is full of things to buy and do this time of year, so I’m sure there’s no shortage of information being thrown at you from one avenue or another. This year has been full of all different kinds of challenges due largely to the coronavirus pandemic and the ways it has changed many facets of every day life. As I was lamenting with some friends about the ways that social distancing has robbed* me of some of the joy of this season, I got to thinking about Advent.
(*I realize this sounds really dramatic; I’m sorry. It’s been a weird year.)
This year, acknowledging the challenges of a Covid Christmas and my seasonal depression (coupled with all the postpartum feels), I knew long before Advent arrived that I would need a simple, easy task. I tend to get excited about all the things. I love creating, planning, vision casting, but I struggle this time of year especially (ok, a lot, actually) to see all the things through.
I didn’t want to skip all intentional Advent activities, but I did want to lighten the load because we’re currently still homeschooling. I also wanted to try and focus more on the meaning and less on “stuff”. I’m sure none of this is anything new for you all, but that’s where I’m coming from.
I took our Kids Read Truth ABC wall cards and spelled ADVENT on the wall of our school room. It’s a helpful reminder of the season we are in that doesn’t require a lot (just some painter’s tape to hang them). We are reading This is the Christmas Story (if you haven’t seen this already, highly recommend. Worth every penny, beautiful illustrations and remarkably sound and simple theology for kids of all ages–and their parents!) Each day we turn over an Advent card and read the verse, and some of them are short enough that my kindergartener can memorize them! There’s a series of questions on the back of each card that reinforces the message of Christmas and the season of Advent.
Halfway through Advent, I abandoned the 25 Family Christmas Activities scavenger hunt we started (well, not entirely, but with non-winter weather much of this month, and social distancing in place, a lot of the activities simply don’t apply– and I’m no longer requiring myself to finish it.)
I put a verse a friend shared with me on our felt letter board: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the LORD!” —Psalm 27:14. I was lamenting one day last week about everything, and she pointed me back to Jesus (like all good friends should–if you don’t have these friends in your life, I pray you get connected with one soon!)
The psalm is one of David’s and his circumstances are different than mine, but the reminder is the same: let your heart take courage and wait on God. As I pondered the waiting of Advent, I thought about the Israelites waiting for the Promised Land, then waiting for the Messiah. Now I find myself waiting for the pandemic to end, waiting for people to come around (masks, amiright?), waiting for my children to sleep through the night, waiting for things to reopen, waiting for life to normalize, waiting for wisdom. What are you waiting for? Waiting for your family to grow, waiting for healing to come, waiting for grief to subside, waiting for answers?
He is our hope. Advent reminds us to be strong and wait on Him. I’m grateful for my friends who find ways to remind me of this in simple, regular, average ways. I’m grateful for the opportunity in the messy mundane to point my children to Jesus, to name their big feelings and frustrations in the season of waiting they are experiencing, too. Truly, He is our only hope.
Are you finding ways to be in community during this unprecedented time of social distance? I hope so, even though virtual is not a replacement for everything, it is by and large better than nothing.
It’s hard, but FaceTime, weekly Zoom meetings, and group text messages are my lifeline.