Advent: Upside Down

Phyllis Kidwell, Director of Children's Ministries, shares thoughts about the season below. Join in the conversation in the comment section, and find more resources in our weekly e-news during the month of December.

In this second week of Advent, our focus is on turning the season upside down—a focus on presence rather than presents. Let that sink in.

One year, my brother suspended a Christmas tree from the rafters—upside down! The tippy top of the tree reached way down toward the ground. He decorated it in gold, purple, and green in a nod to New Orleans, where this unusual decorating choice is apparently a tradition. Every time we walked through that great room, the upside-down tree shook things up, a reminder to look at the season anew.

This week's devotional (available for download in the weekly e-news or as a print copy in the church office) asks us to topple the usual order of an American Christmas. It points to a resource called "Simplify the Holidays" that features page after page of ideas and practical tips for a counter-cultural Christmas season, including:

Gift wrapping ideas to reduce the piles of paper that end up in landfills. How about wrapping a gift in food packaging? This would certainly be a surprise for someone to open a special gift wrapped in an old box of granola bars.

Ideas for gifts of time or sentiment rather than things. One suggestion is to give a capsule of memories by interviewing loved ones about the special person you're gifting to, and organizing those memories and affirmations in a document or recording.

The list goes on and on (download it now).

This year, I don't think I'll literally turn my Christmas upside-down, like my brother did, but I will seek a simpler season. I'll stick with my Advent wreath on the dining table, and my husband and I will pause each night to light the candles and read scripture.

this week's question:

What about you? How do you plan to swap stuff for the spirit of peace, hope, joy, and love?

Share your ideas in the comment section below . . .