The Christmas season for me always begins in November. As soon as Halloween is done, I start to get in the Christmas spirit. Gifts are purchased and the handmade ones finished. My tree goes up. Christmas music becomes part of my daily life. And I begin my Advent Bible reading plan.
For the last several years, I’ve used the Jesus Storybook Bible and ornaments to prepare my heart for Christmas. I do a daily reading, hang an ornament on my tree that coordinate with the Bible story, and enjoy.
But this year I’m feeling the pull of something different.
It’s been quite a year. I’m tried and don’t have a lot of space for a fast-pace or even a short daily reading.
I know I want and need something different, but finding a way to change my Christmas rhythm is difficult. I’m struggling to let go of the familiar and expected for the sake of better engaging with this season.
Having rhythms, both in our daily devoted time, and in these special seasonal events is a good thing. Rhythms keep us grounded, give us something to look forward to, and they eliminate some of the guess work.
But sometimes rhythms, even good rhythms need changed.
Sometimes a rhythm we’ve kept in seasons past, do not work for the season we’re in.
So when that happens with our Advent rhythms, how do we make those changes?
I’ve got a few ideas:
The first place to start whenever we change up a rhythm is to take a heart check. We want to make sure that adjustments we make are actually helpful and not born out of a sense of duty or expectation.
Rhythms are there to help us draw near to God, not heap pressure and burden on us.
So I’ve been asking myself what I need, want, might enjoy in my Christmas rhythms.
I’m noticing where I feel pressure or expectations or burdens, and I’m trying to find ways to lay all of that down.
For me, I know that words are hard right now, so doing an Advent Bible study or a reading plan probably won’t work out well. Instead I need tangible things, physical ways to engage with God in this season.
So far that is looking like my new rhythm for this year might involve a lot of time in the kitchen and more handmade Christmas gifts than normal.
While there is a traditional rhythm to Advent, don’t be afraid to lay down tradition to actually find what works for you in this season.
Take some time to reflect and decide what you need to include in your rhythm this year.
Once you’ve taken some time to reflect, it’s time to clear some space. Whatever you’ve decided is no longer working, remove it from your plan and set it aside.
Sometimes our Advent rhythms aren’t working simply because we’ve stuffed them too full.
The act of simplifying, however, can be difficult.
I’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions about my rhythms. Normally, I run an online Advent study for the month of December, but I cancelled that to create a little more margin.
I’ve also decided not to pull out my Jesus Storybook Bible or the ornaments this year, and I won’t be purchasing a new devotional either. I’ll find different ways to connect with God, but it won’t be through a daily devotional.
Do what you need to in order to simplify things in your rhythm. Cancel plans. Say no. Simplify your schedule. Get rid of old decorations, devotionals, etc.–whatever you need to do to make space for the new.
Focus and Adapt
When revamping our Advent rhythms, it can be easy to go gun-ho and add in way to much. Rhythms take time to adapt and change. Instead of adding in a whole bunch of new, just pick one thing to focus on.
What is one thing in your current Advent rhythm that you want to change?
Maybe the part of your Advent rhythm that has been driving you bonkers is gift-giving. You drive yourself crazy hunting down the perfect gift for every individual. Focus on adapting your method of gift-giving.
Or maybe it’s decorating. Maybe it’s time for a new theme for your Christmas decor, or maybe you want a new rhythm for decorating. Focus your attention there.
Not everything has to change when a rhythm isn’t working. Focusing on one area may provide the peace, joy, and space you’re looking for.
One thing I’m adapting this year is how I decorate my tree.
I heard someone on a podcast last year talking about how their family decorates their tree in parts. One week the tree goes up. The next week the lights. Each part of the tree decor gets a spot on the calendar, and slowly the tree is ready. It’s a way of preparing for Christmas that I fell in love with and will be trying out this year.
Once we’ve reflected, simplified, focused and adjusted, one final way to create a new rhythm for Advent is by adding something new.
Pick something you’ve never done before, slide it into your Advent rhythm and see how it feels.
Don’t add something you feel your should add. Pick something fun!
Don’t add the pressure of building a new tradition. Just add in one new thing this year and see how it goes.
Maybe you want to bake cookies or travel or maybe this is the year you try out a new Advent study or devotional.
Make the choice to try something new.
And if you’re looking specifically for a new Advent reading plan or study, here are a few I recommend:
Daily Grace study or Scripture writing journal. This year their theme is waiting
Shadow and Light by Tsh Oxenrider
Try one of my Bible studies. Women of the Covenant, In the Waiting, Name Above All Names are all great choices for Christmas!
However you change up your rhythm, I pray this Advent season fills you up afresh with hope, joy, peace, and love.
I pray you find Jesus in the familiar and the new things as you craft an Advent rhythm that works for you in this season.
Any ideas what your new rhythm will be? What will you keep? What will you adapt? What will your simplify or add? Comment below!
Live in His love!