Well, it's December (hooray!) and today I wanted to chat about personal rhythms and routines over Advent.
With the cosiness of Christmas in the air, I just love December. And one of the reasons for that is I have a few little special things I do to connect with God. These things are special enough to me that I start to look forward to them in November!
Centuries ago, the Western church developed a liturgy to help their congregations connect through the year with the Gospel. Specific scriptures were read on certain dates, and specific stories from scripture were celebrated. I imagine that was a very helpful thing for those who loved God but couldn't necessarily read his word. Well, these days I think we can do the same in our personal lives: We can find some special personal routines throughout our year that help us remember and connect with aspects of God.
When it comes to Advent and December, I thought I might share with you my three special practices, and I'd love to hear from you in turn if you have any special Christmas faith routines. I'm sure I'll adopt more routines as the years pass, but for now here are my three:
First of all, on 1 December I pick up my heavy leather Bible, open up its beautiful pages to the nativity sections in Matthew and Luke and start to read. I say Matthew and Luke because they're the only two out of the four Gospels that cover Jesus's birth. I take my time over them, marinating in them, piecing them together like a jigsaw puzzle, and reading one section a day.
They are fascinating narratives; they never get old. I find I look back sometimes on the Old Testament prophecies that go with certain parts. I shake my head in wonder at the Bible and this part of it -- The nativity story. It is truly a mind-blowing thing, and also a very surprising thing that God did here: A baby in a manger. A messiah born to an 'unmarried' woman? Bemusing. Mesmerizing. Full of symbolism.
The second thing I do is crack open my own journals for the whole past year and start to re-read them over the month of December. Now this one involves a lot of sitting around with a whole lot of coffee; which, to Bryce, does look a little lazy. But it's amazing to look back on what God has done. I find I've asked God a lot of questions and have written down everything I've prayed for, so sometimes I find myself startled to see within the pages of those journals that "Wow, Lord, you really did answer that."
And finally, as Christmas approaches I book myself a hotel room for the night and take 24 hours away with God. It's indulgent, I know, but sometimes a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do. I tell my family it's 'Mum's strategic planning day', at which they burst into laughter. But truly it's to talk to God about the coming year.
I guess I'm writing this because the success of our walk as SUMites is so heavily driven by how deep our intimacy with God is. And now, our ability to cope with this pandemic is also going to be impacted by the same. Yes, we have at least two tough things we are enduring (the SUM, the pandemic) .. And if we have tough stuff in our lives, oh how we need Jesus like we need air!
How about you? I'd love to hear of any routines you have at Christmas time. Yours might look completely different to mine but hey, variety is just great, and so I'm looking forward to chatting about this one.