“Advent” a word so familiar, yet a word we seem to misunderstand at times. Well, just so that you know, Advent is a time of waiting for the second coming of Christ while rejoicing at his first coming.
If you re-read this definition of Advent, don’t you think we tend to ignore a part of it? Don’t you think we get too faithful when it comes to the rejoicing part while we forget about the waiting? Or even if we do wait for Christ’s second coming, are we prepared enough for it?
Similar questions arose in the minds of some youth and they decided that the season of advent 2018 would be lived like never before. They met as a household and spoke about it, all under the watchful eye of the Holy Spirit who inspired them to challenge themselves to do things differently this Advent. Thus ‘The Advent Challenge’ came into action. Now, this was a group of 6 boys from a household who wanted to take small steps to humble themselves and get closer to God this Advent. For this is what Advent is about!! Getting into a deeper relationship with Jesus! But when they prayed about this they heard a voice in their heads saying, “Don’t you think you’re being selfish? Why don’t you invite all the households to this challenge?”
Now, these boys thought they had reached out enough, only to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice again, this time asking them, “Why do you set age as a barrier? Why only the youth? Why not the singles and the couples?” So this time they invited the entire CFCI community. All happy that they had reached out enough, they began planning the challenge. They sat together scratching heads, flipping the pages of the Holy Book and teasing their brain cells to give them ideas, again all controlled by the Holy Spirit who spoke this time too! But this time asking, “Why only the CFCI family? Why not call the others?” And you know the rest. This challenge which began with 6 boys ended up with 120 people. Isn’t that amazing?
Well, I’m sure you want to know what the challenges were, so here it is. But before that, it is very important that I tell you what was the true purpose of this challenge was, it was all about involving Jesus in our everyday lives this Advent and without any doubt, the purpose was fulfilled.
As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said,
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love”.
It was decided that this challenge would have to be simple, fun and interesting, without losing its true purpose of involving Jesus in our lives. They had in store for us tasks that were simple yet challenging. The list went this way: Short Worship, Reminder Prayer, Daily Tasks and Secret Santa.
The short worship was meant for us to experience God’s presence at home too. It made us realize that we need not wait for a Sunday to worship our God.
Next, they made a reminder prayer which went like this,
“Jesus I love you. Jesus, I know you are with me. Holy spirit I love you.”
This prayer helped us to make Jesus a part of our entire day rather than just during our prayer time as written rightly in Ephesians 6:18. Once a person says the reminder prayer, he/she was encouraged to put it up on the WhatsApp group created for this purpose, saying “Reminder”. This encouraged others to pray the reminder prayer throughout the day whenever they saw the message on the group and acknowledged God’s presence in and around us.
We decided to play the same old Christmas game in a different way this time. We picked chits and became Secret Santas. The twist came in when we were asked to pray for the person whose names were revealed in the chits. So each day of the 19-day challenge we prayed for that person, teaching us charity through prayer.
Now comes the most interesting challenge of all, ‘The Daily Task’. There were two simple but interesting daily tasks in store for us. The first one was pretty simple it was decided that the usage of phones at the dining table would be avoided. That precious time would be spent by talking and sharing with our family members.
The second one was very interesting since it involved evangelizing through social media. Every day they would send us a template of a Bible verse and a task, which enabled us to live that verse on that day. They were as simple as appreciating 5 people to mend broken relationships to giving flowers to our parents. These templates of the Bible verse and task were to be posted as a story on Instagram. These not so simple challenges surely had a powerful impact in our lives and that of others who took up this task through our Instagram stories, as understood by the various testimonies shared.
By the end of the challenge, we knew that we had surely been able to take at least one step closer to Jesus. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said,
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
This Advent, it looked like, small things had been done with great love. All praise be to God.