Today is the Christian new year, the first Sunday of Advent. I have spent the last few years wrestling with my spiritual self. I am a Christian, though there are many who would disagree with that statement because I prefer to focus more on creating heaven on earth than on getting (me or anyone else) to heaven. Bummer. So I let other Christians and their disdain for my experience with the gospel eat at me.
It was actually the process of my kids exploring their own faith that brought me to a place of spiritual strength, confidence even.
Now I am all good with God and Jesus and my own soul. Because of this, I have a renewed appreciation for the liturgical season.
Advent rocks. No matter where you lie on the sacerdotal spectrum, celebrating a spiritual new year is anticipatory, reflective, refreshing and enlivening — much more so than celebrating the guilt-inducing, superficial, high pressure new year of the calendar. I learned this from my Muslim, Jewish, and Baha’i friends, all of whom relish their liturgical new year.
This year, I am going all out.
I started by making a Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar to replace the cardboard one we had that once contained a chocolate a day (what that has to do with the gospel, I have no idea).
|Were the focus not on generosity towards others, I’d request a new camera for Christmas.|
I filled the calendar with a daily quote about generosity and peace and a random act of kindness to fulfill as a family before the end of the day.
The kids are thrilled with it. They had completed the random act of kindness for the day by 10:00 this morning, in time to get to church (We’d have helped them but they dashed out the door while we were not looking and, by the time we found them, had taken out the trash for five of our building neighbors.).
Secondly, tomorrow morning, when the kids wake up, besides the calendar, they will be treated to a mason jar filled with snippets of biographical information about religious heroes who brought the message of the gospel to fruition. There will be some biggies, like Mother Theresa, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Nelson Mandela. Some of these figures, like them, will be Christian. Some will not (Gandhi, Eboo Patel, Buddha). Jesus never said you had to call yourself a Christian to work the gospel. They will also find a mason jar filled with short snippets of current issues the world faces. We will then explore together how that particular religious hero might respond to the current issue (If you have suggestions for either, I would love to hear them).
Finally, as we always do, we will focus a good percentage of our gift-giving energy this year on both gifts straight from the heart for our loved ones and gifts for those who have needs that go unfulfilled (we like to give to organizations that serve in Haiti since two of my children were born there).
How do you celebrate your liturgical new year?