These four darkest weeks of the year leading up to Christmas are a time for slowing down and paying attention. Yet, the expectations we feel to shop, party, cook, and eat—clutter our days—often leaving us scattered, stressed and short-wicked.
This year at Salt House our theme for Advent is DETOUR: When Life Gets in The Way. The story of Jesus’ birth -- God’s love coming to us in the flesh -- is not a story with a simple interpretation. In fact, the entire story is divergent from what was expected, not only at that time in history, but also today. What does it mean for us to embrace the ‘alternate routes’ in our own lives, especially when our personal, cultural, and religious expectations are telling us another thing? This season, join the journey of Advent and embrace the detour.
The Daily Practices listed here are not about keeping score or keeping up, but rather, about embracing moments during our busy days leading up to Christmas to slow down, notice, and soak up a little bit of the joy of the season.
JOIN US FOR ADVENT YOGA
Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 from 6:30 – 7:45pm
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP
Sunday, December 24 at 4:30pm
FOUR SIMPLE WAYS TO ENGAGE IN ADVENT THIS YEAR
1. POWER DOWN
No one in the history of human kind has ever had the obstacles we have to being present. We carry our obstacles in our pockets now. Phones. Try using your phone less as you allow yourself to be less distracted and more present.
2. LIGHT CANDLES
Blue is the color of Advent: the color of hope, the color of the night sky as you wait for sunrise. The Advent wreath is made of four blue candles and one white one. Light one blue candle each week on Sunday, adding one each Sunday as you go, watching the passage of time. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve.
As you light a new candle, read the scripture listed below (with whomever you are eating a meal). For the other nights of the week, light the same candle(s) from Sunday and pause to reflect on your day: what was your high, your low, listening for God’s presence in your days. Share those moments with those who share your table that night. In the darkness of winter, the growing light reminds us of God’s constant presence. Here is another resource for you if you’d like a little more guidance.
3. SAVOR THE STORY
Immerse yourself in the Christmas story, the unfolding of Jesus’ birth that is told in Luke’s gospel (Luke 1:26-2:20). Read it on your own and let this story seep into your present moment, holding how the story of God becoming human and showing up here among us informs our experience of the present moment and hope for the future.
4. SIMPLE PRACTICES
Each day, there is a simple practice for engagement…use these daily cues to inform how to become more present to your daily experiences, to your own thoughts and feelings, and to those around you. You may also want try meditation as you engage in these practices. Try the Headspace app (also online at headspace.com).
Sunday, Dec. 2—Read Luke 3:1-6 and light the first blue Advent Candle.
Monday, Dec. 3—Spend time outside. Breathe. Find a rock to hold. Watch and listen to the birds.
Tuesday, Dec. 4—Notice what (and who) you wait for today.
Wednesday, Dec. 5—Practice emotional intelligence. Name the things you feel as you feel them.
Thursday, Dec. 6—Join us tonight for Advent Yoga or spend 5 minutes of quiet with deep breathing. With each breath, breathe in the word PEACE, and breathe out the word LOVE.
Friday, Dec. 7—Share with a friend one of your favorite holiday traditions from childhood.
Saturday, Dec. 8—Pay attention to recent CHANGES in your life – where are you in new or unfamiliar territory and relationships?
Sunday, Dec. 9—Read Matthew 1:18-25 and light 2 blue Advent candles.
Monday, Dec. 10—Spend time outside. Breathe. Notice the grass. Feel the wind. Watch the changing sky.
Tuesday, Dec. 11—Headed somewhere? Plan to leave early. Notice how extra time feels.
Wednesday, Dec. 12—Hold the question: “God, what are you up to?” throughout today.
Thursday, Dec. 13—Join us tonight for Advent Yoga or spend 5 minutes of quiet with deep breathing. With each breath, breathe in the word PEACE, and breathe out the word LOVE.
Friday, Dec. 14—Notice places where ‘the poor have good news brought to them’ (Matthew 11:5).
Saturday, Dec. 15—Make note of all surprises.
Sunday, Dec 16 —Read Luke 1:39-45 and light 3 blue Advent candles.
Monday, Dec. 17—Notice signs of God in your day and the wider world.
Tuesday, Dec. 18—Spend time outside. Breathe. See the bark on trees. Feel the cool of the pavement. Get your hands dirty!
Wednesday, Nov. 19—Repeat the phrase: “Be still and know that I am God,” dropping one word from the end each time – until just “Be.” Use liberally today.
Thursday, Dec. 20—Pay attention to the sounds and tastes you experience today.
Friday, Dec. 21—In the downtime moments while waiting (for someone, in traffic, an appt.) pay attention to what and who is around you.
Saturday, Dec. 22—Pay attention to who you think of today (hear about, read about). Pray for them. Choose one to call or text.
Sunday Dec. 23—Read Luke 1:46-55 and light 4 blue Advent Candles.
Saturday, Dec. 24—Read Luke 2:1-20 and light the 5th Advent Candle.
Come to Christmas Eve worship—4:30 p.m. at Salt House!