Every Sunday, the children are invited forward at our church. It’s one of my favorite parts of the service. Squiggly kids. Tentative ones. The bosses. The boisterous. The people-pleasers. Their unabashed traits shining in all their glory. No time-crafted mask covers that beauty yet. Sigh.

What does Advent mean? the children are asked. It’s one simple question. One simple answer. Coming. And the first purple candle of Advent is lit.

This year, John and I mailed Advent candles to our adult children. We remember this season of life all too well–the New Year will be here before they have a chance to purchase their own.

Sunday, I texted our oldest daughter, Michaelanne, asking if I could get two minutes of FaceTime with Thomas, our 30-month-old grandson. Naturally, it was a busy Sunday afternoon. Knowing my daughter wanted this too, I persisted until we could find a few minutes of focused time.

My daughter told me she only had two candlestick holders and no wreath. No problem. She and her husband put the one purple candle in a holder. I got mine ready. Thomas repeated the word, Advent, after we did. I told him it meant coming. I told him I was coming to visit him in two days!  I could see his little toes curl in excitement. We lit our candles.

No further explanation was needed. This multi-sensory experience will be repeated throughout this month and in years to come. His little brain will connect Advent with the anticipation of something good coming. He’ll experience a hope that isn’t deferred.

Advent Blog bible verseAnd me? I’ll be alert for a time when his hope is deferred and his heart grows sick. When he finds himself in the dark, wanting to light his own way. When he struggles like you and I do with waiting. Waiting for Christ to come and rescue us from whatever we are facing. Waiting, and if we’re honest, wondering if rescue is really on its way. This is when Advent will make sense. This is when remembering a past rescue will hold him in good stead, preparing him to understand true hope. A hope where the sheer thought of it will curl his toes in anticipation. A hope that he can bet his life on without fear of it not being true. Maybe he won’t remember this event at all. It doesn’t matter; his brain will be wired for this even if his mind forgets.

I didn’t create an elaborate plan to reinforce the meaning of Advent. I don’t scour the Internet looking for best practices. My life is already too full of expectations I can’t fulfill.  Staying away from Pinterest and Facebook can almost be a spiritual discipline, especially when I wrestle with comparison. Instead, I look at the opportunities placed in front of me. And keep it simple!