Friends. I am the QUEEN of BIG IDEAS. And I suck (suck suck suck suck) at follow-through. Like you can’t even know (except some of you do, because you’ve witnessed it–I am so sorry).
The good news is that I’m sort of (kind of but not actually really) starting to learn that saying YES and doing NO is NOT OKAY. Saying YES, doing YES? Okay. Saying NO, doing NO? Also okay.
So, I say no to lots of things. No, I don’t want to be on Pinterest. No, I don’t want to join your book club. No, I cannot come to your selling-things party.
(I also still say yes a lot and then absolutely and totally regret it.)
Let me first say that I really do absolutely nothing for Christmas (or any holiday for that matter). No tree. No decorations. No baking. No nothing. And not just because I live in Cambodia. I stopped doing Christmas years ago. (We still celebrate it with other people. I’m not a total scrooge.)
So, it’s not like “doing Advent” is going to be “one more thing I can’t handle during the holiday crazy.” I don’t have any holiday crazy.
My track record for “let’s read aloud together every night before bed!” or “let’s pray together every morning as a family!” or “let’s do this cool Advent devotional for four weeks before Christmas!”
The past few years I’ve been thinking/reading/learning a lot about liturgy and our Christian history and Jesus-followers around the globe, and I think Advent is a really special time and a great way to re-focus on why we’re even here: Jesus. His kingdom. Sharing his love with the world.
But I cannot possibly make Jesse tree ornaments or commit to a family devotional every day for four weeks or craft with my children for even five minutes.
Then my dear friend, Sarah, posted this yesterday. Her 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, whom I love like crazy (and she’s been blessing me since the day I met her), had this most perfect idea for Advent.
“Mom, let’s pray for a different country in the world each day.”
Yes. That’s it. That’s what I want to do. And I WILL do it. And I will post about it briefly on Facebook every single day to hold myself accountable. And I came up with 4 weeks’ worth of countries in about two minutes, because God has blessed me beyond measure with friends from all corners of the globe.
Note: I will NOT be making any adorable ornaments like Sarah and Hannah did. I also will not be doing all the research they’re doing. We’ll pray for those countries–and our friends that hail from or live in those countries–and that will be it.
But I’m really excited about it. And would LOVE it if you’d join us. I’m starting December 1 and ending on Christmas Day. Here’s my list of countries if you don’t want to choose your own.
11. Papua New Guinea
12. Costa Rica
21. Saudi Arabia
Reading from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals almost every single day. Oh, I love it so much. And it has really, truly changed my life.
And my copy is so beat up and sooooo marked up, and it becomes more precious to me every day because of all the life I’ve lived, the joy/anguish I’ve experienced.
I just found out that you can read THE WHOLE THING online for FREE. (wooohoooooo!!!)
I would love love love it if a bunch of you would read it along with me this year (the liturgical calendar starts on December 1).
Here’s what I wrote on fb this morning:
“In Common Prayer, we enter a counterintuitive story. Common Prayer helps us see ourselves as part of a holy counterculture… to bear witness that another world is possible. We’re invited to become a peculiar people, living into a different story, and orienting our lives around a different set of values that those we are taught by the empires and markets around us. In an individualistic culture, liturgy helps us live a communal life…
Liturgy is meant to be an interruption. It disrupts our reality and refocuses it on God. It reshapes our perceptions and lives with rhythms, new holy days, a whole new story… Just as people of the world pledge their allegiance to flags or sing national anthems with pride and adoration, these creeds, songs, and prayers are ways that we proclaim our allegiance and sing our adoration not to a nation but to another kingdom altogether….
The church calendar begins not on January 1 but with Advent, four weeks before Christmas (‘Advent’ means ‘the coming’), as the world waits, pregnant with hope.”
No need to commit right now to ONE MORE THING. But I encourage you to think about, pray about it, ask God if this is something he’d like you to do this coming year. To be disciplined, to spend more time in his presence. In community with all kinds of people around the world.
“The gift of liturgy is that it helps us hear less of our own little voices and more of God’s still, small voice (Psalm 46). It leads away from self and points us toward the community of God.”
I want that. So much.
How about you?