[toggle]In the Christian Church of the West, the summit of the liturgical calendar is Easter. For the Eastern Church it is Christmas. The West sees the central hope of humanity as the story of our Savior who died to save sinners (“For God so loved the world …”). The East holds Christmas as the high mark because hope is found in the fact that God joined, became embodied, became incarnate with the cosmos (“The Word became flesh … “). [/toggle]


[toggle]East or West, celebrations of Lent (the season leading to Easter) and Advent (the season leading to Christmas) are holy and have been historically prioritized to aid Christians in a robust life of faith. [/toggle]


[toggle]Sunday, November 30th marks the first day of Advent this year. More often than not, Advent arrives with the thought, Is Advent here already? Regrettably, that moment is often too late to plan a meaningful Advent experience. [/toggle]

(写真:Airman 1st Class Jessica Evans)


[toggle]Planning to practice [/toggle]


[toggle]It always amazes me that a mere spoonful of forethought can transform our spiritual life. There are many, many creative ways to practice Advent. Here is one example from our family: [/toggle]


[toggle]Christmas for daily family ceremony. We celebrate each evening just before my youngest heads to bed. The service is not complicated, but it is intentional—and our boys seem to enjoy it. [/toggle]


[toggle]The last several years our service has gone like this: [/toggle]

(写真:Matti Blume)

1 雰囲気を整える……息子の一人が、シンプルなアドベント・クランツのろうそくに火を灯します。次に、4本のろうそくのテーマ(希望、平和、喜び、愛)のいくつかの側面について話し合います。たとえば、「希望」の週には毎晩、「なぜ羊飼いのように仲間はずれにされている人たちはイエスに希望を持っているの?」、「博士たちのような他宗教の人々がイエスの物語に参加することが、どうして希望を示すことになるんだろう」と尋ねます。

[toggle]1. Set the atmosphere: One of our boys lights a candle on our simple wooden Advent wreath. Then we discuss some aspect of each candle’s theme (hope, peace, joy, love.) For example during the week of “hope” each evening we ask something like, “Why is Jesus’ coming hopeful for marginalized people like shepherds?” or “Why is it hopeful that people of other religions, like the Magi, are a part of Jesus’ story?” [/toggle]

2 読む……『アドベントの本』を毎日読みます。新しいドアを一つずつ開き(本の各ページは趣のあるドアです)、アドベント・ストーリーの一部を読みます。時々、以前のドアはどんなものだったかを最初に振り返りました。息子たちが成長するにつれて、本を読むことに興味を持つようになります。また、息子たちが小さかった時には、私たちはトントンとドアを叩いたり、本の中に隠れている動物たちを探したりと、ゲームの要素も加えました。

[toggle]2.Read: We do a daily reading from the Advent Book. We open 1 new door (each page of the book is an artistic door) and read a portion of the Advent story. Sometimes we review a few of the previous doors first. As they grow, the boys are encouraged to do the reading. And when they were young we play additional games like “Knock on the Door” or “Find the animal hidden in the artwork on each page.” [/toggle]

3 しきたりを創造する……妻が少女の頃から大切にしてきた古いフェルトのクリスマス・ツリーに、息子の一人が小さな飾りをつけます。

[toggle]Create a tradition: One boy pins a tiny ornament to a tired-out old felt tree that my wife has treasured since she was a girl. [/toggle]

4 賛美……「飼いばおけにすやすやと」(『讃美歌21』269番)のような、子どもたちの年齢に応じたクリスマス・キャロルを歌います。

[toggle]4. Worship: We sing a Christmas carol appropriate to their age, like “Away in a Manger.” [/toggle]

5 閉会……息子の一人がろうそくの火を吹き消します。

[toggle]5. Closing: One boy blows out the candle. [/toggle]


[toggle]All in all, it is about a 15-minute ceremony. It gives us ample opportunity to share why the incarnation is so important to us, how God valued marginalized people, and to build hope-filled anticipation of Christmas (the practice of delayed gratification). We also include others: neighbor kids, housemates (we live in a communal household) and houseguests. [/toggle]


[toggle]Many ways to celebrate [/toggle]


[toggle]My oldest is 10 years old now. He and his brothers are ready for a deeper exploration of the essential spiritual themes of the Advent season. [/toggle]


[toggle]This year, I think we are going to keep the Advent book out on the coffee table where the boys can read it anytime they want, but instead of using that book during the evening ceremony, we are going to try a one-to-three verse per night, slow conversation through John 1. [/toggle]


[toggle]It will have several hopes: [/toggle]




[toggle] • Expand the boys Christology (understanding of who Jesus is and why he came.)
• Enhance their capacity to ask the Bible deeper questions.
• Encourage memorization of some essential verses of faith: John 1:1, 1:12 and 1:14. [/toggle]


[toggle]I am ashamed to admit that I have struggled to find regular ways to include Bible reading and morization into our family practices. I am very thankful that the Mothers and Fathers of our faith imparted rhythms like Advent to help us grow and spiritually nurture our household. [/toggle]


[toggle]Will you practice as well? [/toggle]


[toggle]So, now is the time to prepare for your Advent ceremony. Whether you celebrate alone or with others, whether the participants are young or old, I am convinced that these practices will deepen your spiritual experience and expand your prophetic imagination. [/toggle]


[toggle]As you plan to celebrate Advent with your family, church, or other gathering, here are a few tips: [/toggle]


[toggle]• Keep your readings short.
• Save time for either mediation or conversation around the themes.
• Integrate multiple senses: smell (candles), sight (images), sound (music), tactile (like a tired old fel tree) and even taste (nothing says divine-abundance like a Christmas cookie.)
• Share the experience with people you love. Even if you don’t live in a communal household, shared ceremony can be experienced with FaceTime, Google Hangout or Skype.) [/toggle]


[toggle]These are some of our practices. What creative thoughts can you add to the conversation? [/toggle]






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