As I mentioned in my last blog, I love the season of Advent. I was talking with a teen recently who was not even sure what Advent was, and I’m sure he is not alone. Even those who know about Advent don’t necessarily do anything with that knowledge. The good news of 2010 is that the fourth week of Advent is an entire week this year. It is not too late to enter into the season.
One of the main themes I keep hearing about our readings is waiting. We are waiting for Christmas. We are waiting for Christ to return again. In a culture that is all about the immediate and instant gratification, it is great for the Church to give us four weeks to practice patience.
How do we teach this concept to teens? Here are some ideas:
- Explain Advent. Explain what the season is all about and what we are preparing to celebrate. Encourage them not to by pass this season for Christmas. Challenge them to do something to prepare for Christ’s coming.
- Create a Waiting List. Have youth create a list of everything they are waiting for. Then, challenge them to look at the list with an eternal perspective. Which of these are really important and which are not? Encourage them to ask the Lord to help them see why it is important to wait for certain items. Also, encourage them to let go of their impatience on items that are not really all that important.
- Fast from the Instantaneous. Ask teens to fast from something that they never wait for. They will have to be creative—maybe it is heating something in the oven instead of the microwave. Maybe it is waiting two minutes before checking a new text message.
- Embrace Silence. Teens consume nearly eight hours of media a day. So, another sort of appropriate fast during this season is from noise and distraction. Encourage them to take out the headphones or to delete that angry birds game. Get rid of things that distract from God. As they do this they will be able to better open up their hearts and minds to His coming.
- Practice Patience. Have the teens identify an area in their lives that they tend to be impatient. It may be with a situation or a person. Talk about how one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is patience and encourage them to ask the Holy Spirit to work in their lives to be more patient.
There is a passage from James, chapter 5, that I keep reading that seems to sum up this whole idea:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Let’s help our youth to embrace this season of Advent, even in its final week.