The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Reclaim Advent

This creative exercise will help you 'prepare the way'

The carnival of excess comes earlier every year, rushing us all into Christmas. Since early fall we've been dazzled with holiday images. By now we've seen far too many yuletide displays, penciled in too many events on our December calendars and heard too many elevator-music carols.

The world around us isn't likely to slow the Christmas merry-go-round. So we sigh as we go, caught up in the whirl. But we can stop — if we stop complaining and, instead, take charge of our December days. We can reclaim Advent.

By joining with Christian friends and family, we can help each other "clear a highway across the desert for our God."

This creative exercise began as a way to counter holiday craziness. It's become a tradition, a way Advent becomes each year richer and more meaningful. It developed in a women's spirituality group but is adaptable for family, friends or another existing group. (See page 18 for individual meditation suggestions.) It's simply — and wonderfully — a way to walk day-by-day to the Bethlehem stable and then celebrate together with a "telling" of Christ's birth.

• Draw names. As Advent begins, each person draws a name — not of someone for a gift exchange but of characters or objects present at the Nativity. You'll have everything from Jesus, Mary and Joseph to the shepherds, angels and Magi — even the innkeeper, other travelers or shopkeepers of Bethlehem. And you can have the star, sheep, the manger and the straw if you wish. Don't feel that inanimate objects are unimportant. It's amazing how they can teach us the lessons of Advent.

• Get to know the "name." You live with that name throughout Advent, reading Scripture and other books to "research" the object or person — praying and meditating on what it meant to be that person or object.

• Tell the story. Set a date to gather your group just before Christmas for what's called the "telling." This is a special and holy time indeed — for it's when you tell the Nativity story from your hearts. It's a time to be creative too.

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