One Great Way to Observe Advent

I sat in my office today dreaming of the Thanksgiving feast; it’s hard to concentrate on much else and I would rather have been at home digging out the Christmas decorations.

It’s times like these that I turn to reading in an attempt to re-focus on what I’m supposed to be doing here. I pulled out my devotional book based on the liturgical church year, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants, and realized that next Sunday is the first day of Advent.

How did that happen?

Christmas snuck up on me like a middle school boy with a dodge ball.

Advent is my favorite church season and I felt like I didn’t do anything to prepare our students for this amazing month of wonder and expectation. I tend to do this every year. I find myself saying, “Next year, I’m really going to do advent big.”

Then I read further in my devotional.

“To have found God, to have experienced him in the intimacy of our being, to have lived even for one hour in the fire of his Trinity and the bliss of his Unity, clearly makes us say: ‘Now I understand. You alone are enough for me.’” –From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

Arrested.

The question must change. The “what will we do” must turn into “what will we know?” It’s in the knowing that Christ alone is enough, and that knowledge will change what we do. Doing Advent big isn’t what it’s all about. Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of Christ, should be a time of prayer and devotion—a pulling back from the hectic over-programmed, hyper-scheduled norm many of us call youth ministry.

Advent has been referred to as a “little Lent,” a time of repentance. I would like to join with our students in the next few weeks in humble searching, in heartfelt prayer, in intentional listening to the needs and stories of others around us.

Rather than planning the best Advent series ever, I tried to stick to leaving some space for God to work, trusting that, as we devoted time and attention to honoring the birth of Christ, we’d find a childlike wonder that draws us closer to the reason we are here in the first place.

So I came up with a plan for our middle school students in December (if you can call it one).

  • Come together whenever we can.
  • Pray and sing.
  • Honor the story of Jesus’ birth by telling it.
  • Give students some experiential ways to enter into the story and give them a chance to tell how they have been a part of it.
  • Listen.
  • Celebrate.
  • Be content.

God, we thank you for coming to us long ago in the birth of Jesus. We offer our lives and our ministries to you, asking that you would give us courage to truly wait in expectation for what you are going to do in us and through us. Help us to be patient. Uncomplicate us. Wreck our ideas to make room for your leading. Thank you for giving us unlimited grace. Help us to be faithful, each in our own way—and responsive with our lives for being given such undeserved gifts.

This article originally appeared here.

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