Advent is a time for do-overs of life practices that you want to revisit, reform or reinvigorate. Devotions — individual or family — are among those practices. These are a few thoughts about simple devotions at this time of year:
• Start anywhere. You don't need a plan to pick up a hymnbook, Bible or journal. Think about what each of these items might make especially possible or enjoyable.
• Try "everywhere prayers." Use a map of the world, the continent, your state or town as the focus for a prayer that brings you close to people everywhere. Pretend to "fly over" the map slowly, imagining or remembering people who live in various places below. Pray about the blessings they bring, their opportunities and needs, their strengths.
• Collect and use devotional objects. Advent calendars, wreaths and candles, sure. But how about dried flowers, polished stones, hats, keys, evergreens, a child's sculpture or weekly worship bulletins? What comes to mind as you consider these items as embodiments of God's grace in your life? What's profound in the middle of what's simple?
• Write letters. A simple handwritten note can be a precious gift. Think (together with family members) how those who receive your letters are examples of Advent themes — e.g., patience in adversity, honest repentance, hope that never dries up. And tell the letter recipients of your admiration. Pray about each letter. Be specific.
• Construct mind-maps. You can develop these colorful conceptual diagrams or thought mosaics that are sparked by Advent and Christmas simplicities. Post the maps where they can continue to grow as reminders for prayer and thanksgiving during this time of year.
Because they are simple, these devotions offer you quiet and calm. They can reattach you to God's will for your life and bring you the surprises of God's Spirit!
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers