Week Two: Pack Up & Start Walking
Here are this week’s Pilgrim Steps: real practices you can do on your own or with friends or family as you continue your journey toward Christmas.
Do you have a nativity set? If so, get it out. If you don’t, there are a few suggestions for you at the end of this exercise. But before you set up Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the wisemen in their regular places, remember that no one has actually gotten to Bethlehem yet…they are all still on their way. Begin by placing the manger in the location you want, but locate the cast of characters around the house…as if they are on their way to Bethlehem. Discover where “east” is in reference to the manger. Place the wisemen in the “east” and over the next few weeks, slowly move them closer to the manger until on Christmas Eve, they finally arrive with their gifts.
Mary lived in Nazareth. Where is Nazareth located in relationship to Bethlehem? How far did she and Joseph have to travel to get to Bethlehem? Find the answers and place the nativity characters around the house according to their biblical location (you can type in “Nazareth, Israel” and “Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem” on Google Maps). Do the same with the shepherds. Have some fun moving the characters a little closer each day or once a week on their journey to the manger.
If you don’t have a Nativity set check out these DIY suggestions:
An old shaker song goes “It is a gift to be simple, it is a gift to be free.” But it seems like most of us lead complicated and entangled lives. Although the idea of a more peaceful life is very appealing, keeping life simple is not easy. I laughed when I read that the chaise lounge is the most popular purchased, but least used, piece of outdoor furniture.
In her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoun writes about the spiritual practice called simplicity. “Simplicity creates margins and spaces and openness in our lives. It honors our earthly resources. It offers us the leisure of tasting the present moment. Simplicity asks us to let go of the tangle of wants so we can receive the simple gifts of life that cannot be taken away; gifts like sleeping, eating, walking, giving and receiving love. These are just a few of life’s simple pleasures we can take for granted, and yet they are amazing gifts. Simplicity invites us into daily pleasures that can open us to God, who is present to us in them all [life giving pleasures].” In thinking about our life as a pilgrimage, we are forced to consider how much of our interior and exterior baggage we are willing to carry. Let this Advent season be a time when you slow down long enough to notice the weight of those resentments you continue to carry, or the heaviness of too many possessions. Letting go of what we no longer need to carry creates space. And surprisingly, it is also the seed that sprouts into generosity.
What is the longest trip you have ever been on? How long did it take?
- Now imagine taking what that trip without cars or planes, how long would THAT take?
- Is there anything that important to go on a long trip like that?
- Why do you think the wise men made this journey?
- What are ways we can “journey” to come closer to Jesus?
Journey into our Community
This week, take some time to deliver food to a food bank or a needed household item to a shelter of your choice. Take the time to buy something special and deliver it much as the wisemen delivered their gifts to the infant Jesus.
Lighting the Second Advent Candle – a Family Advent Activity
This week we add (or light) our second Advent Candle. Traditionally each of these candles is given a name (e.g. the shepherd candle, the wisemen’s candle, etc. or something as simple as the candle of Hope, or faith, etc.), but this year, during our Advent pilgrimage, we are linking the candle to our journey, and we are suggesting only one short verse. Last week, we focused on Light. This second week we are “letting go” of our burdens in order to have hands and hearts open to God’s gifts. As you light your second candle, read this verse from Philippians 4:12-13
“I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance…I can face all these things through the power of God who gives me strength.”