Happy New Year! Well, happy liturgical new year I should say.
Advent is upon us and there certainly are many ways individuals, couples, families, and our churches will be celebrating and observing this season differently this year. One thing I have always loved about Advent (truth be told it’s my favorite liturgical season of the year) is it holds traditions so many people look forward to in their homes and churches. Even though the scope of how we might share in these practices and traditions might look different this year, there are some that will connect us to our community no matter where we are observing this season of anticipation.
AdventWord is a great way to observe this season. It can provide connections in your family, your church, and your faith community. AdventWord is a global Advent calendar! Meaning our connections don’t end just with our families and our faith communities.
Not sure what AdventWord is? Begun as a ministry of SSJE, it is now part of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary. A different word is assigned for each day of the season, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and ending on Christmas. AdventWord is a social media campaign where people share an image that reminds them of or causes them to reflect upon that day’s word. Many people also offer a short reflection and tag it all with #AdventWord.
Before this year’s list of words was revealed I had been thinking about how people in the diocese I serve might engage in the practice this year. When the list was revealed it dawned on me how wonderful it would be to see this year’s Advent Word through the eyes of children. So often children and young people are perceived as only receivers of Christian Formation. In reality they have so much to offer us. The lens through which they experience their faith is very different from that of an adult. What a way to experience Advent. The anticipation and preparation seen through the eyes of children, I believe can and will bring us all some extra joy we all need this year.
I invite you this year to include children in your AdventWord practices! We are doing just that in the Diocese of East Carolina with 2nd through 5th graders. If you’ve never done it before, it could be a great way to start a new Advent tradition. Maybe you can connect with far away grandparents or godparents asking them to join you. There are certainly lots of digital ways to share the images they find with each other. Within your church family you could ask different households to take on one word or a rotation of words each week and share them and a short reflection on your church’s social media.
In your home, you might not want to engage social media every day, but you can still do AdventWord each day. Ask kids to find images in books or magazines, or perhaps on a walk outside. Talk about the word, read the scripture passage it came from, listen to the day’s podcast episode, and if you want, share the image and their thoughts on social media. In the same way, share what others have posted on social media with your kids.
Advent is the New Year in the church, and so often with a New Year we look for ways to make a fresh start. Sharing AdventWord with children can be a wonderful way to refresh this season of preparation and anticipation with people of all ages.