Advent in the year 2020. Wow, what a year that we probably want to just forget! So much has happened since March.
What do we need right now? What do our children need- spiritually? How can we make this Advent real and experience this season with the peace and joy that it proclaims?
The answer is certainly not what the world offers as the “meaning of Christmas”. Few of us would say that we need to spend more money, need more material possessions, need more chaos and stress. No. We need less, but not merely for the sake of “less”. We need to fill it with the “more” as well.
These months since March we have had to give up so much. We’ve had to accept less activity and social time. Maybe less money if our job has taken a hit. But what have we been filling it up with? More news? More impatience with our spouse and kids? More depression and despair? Yes, that is what the world has been offering us. I hear story after story after story of anxiety, depression and hopelessness, especially among our youth.
What do we need during this time? We need each other to be fully present, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. We need to learn how to support each other, to love each other, to learn what it means to actually spend time as a family void of our everyday distractions.
We. Need. Jesus.
We need the presence of Christ to renew our hearts and give us the joy and peace that goes beyond understanding. -Philippians 4:7
Yes, it is possible to experience joy. Yes, it is possible to experience peace, even during Covid and an election year. Think about the disciples. When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they ceased to be afraid of death and the political forces during that time. They exploded with joy to the point that people thought they were drunk! They “got out of the boat” and didn’t fear the storm. They recognized that the world NEEDED Jesus and Jesus NEEDED them to be a light to the faith.
I had an interesting sort of “vision and understanding” last January 5th (feast of the Epiphany) after receiving communion at Mass. I even shared this revelation with our priest. What I sensed is that we were going into a different sort of “Dark Ages” and that in the darkness, even the smallest spec of light shines all the greater. We shouldn’t discount even the smallest light of faith that we possess for in a world of darkness, we will still shine all the brighter. Remember the Wise Men following the star to Jesus? Even if our light is tiny, we can still be a light to others and inspire them to want something other than what the darkness that the world is offering.
This Advent, make the decision for less AND more. Focus less on material gifts and shopping. So many school programs and parties won’t be happening, so our calendar should be more free. But be careful, don’t fill your time with more stress! Watch less news. Spend less time on social media. Focus more on spending time as a family. Get creative or simplify. Have each person in the family choose a family activity. Cook as a family. Instead of buying the cookies or pies, learn to make them from scratch with your kids. Enjoy the process and don’t stress over it not being perfect or making a mess. Instead of watching a Christmas movie, read the book as a family. Think about how they used to celebrate Christmas in the “olden days” and you might just find a simpler, but more joyous and peaceful Advent and Christmas season.
As always, blessings from my Domestic Church to yours!
-Natalie Burt, founder of Christ Music Kids and Faith & Flavor