The holidays are always a special time of year, where the (mostly self-imposed) stress of hosting, cooking, cleaning, buying gifts, and having time for everyone can leave even the best of us feeling haggard and pretty much empty of Christmas spirit. However, there is a great opportunity to reconnect to the roots of Advent and the anticipation of Christmas–with your faith formation team. Though developing leadership and interpersonal skills is definitely a journey, the four major themes of Advent can be vital tools not only in the Advent season, but year-round as you work to spread God’s Love and Story.
The ideas of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love abound in Advent, and for good reason! Yet it seems like sometimes these become just words in songs, on cards, and in shops when they are needed the most. Instead of just wishing for them, make each one an ACTIVE part of your Advent for your faith formation team.
Demonstrate Hope with optimism and a healthy outlook on your future plans for yourself and your team. Let yourself be creative when you need to solve a crisis (oh no! The Advent play doesn’t have enough sheep!).
Practice Peace by “leaving work at work”, maintaining balance in your own life, and respecting that balance in the lives of others. Show patience and understanding both in what you say and how you act.
Instill Joy–TRUE Joy–in the Advent season by identifying what you can celebrate each day with your team. And if it seems frivolous (hooray, everyone showed up on time to the meeting…), take time to search for the deeper reason for your joy, like “Yay! We are aligned with our priorities and now can allow God to direct our efforts!”
Actively Love yourself and your team, maybe even everyone you encounter! Advent is the perfect time to show a gentle but fierce love to those we care about most, and more importantly, those we struggle to connect with. Challenge yourself to let love in, and to show love in all you do.
Like starting a journey, the most challenging part of truly getting into Advent and working with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love is always taking the first few steps. It’s okay that it’s hard! But by making these ACTIVE pieces of our interactions with others, both within our faith formation team and beyond, we lay the groundwork for developing more meaningful relationships. We gain a deeper understanding of Advent, and we create a better sense of how our faith can profoundly influence every facet of our lives.