Thanksgiving is almost here, and soon behind it are the first days of Advent, leading us quickly to Christmas! Amidst the joyous holiday preparations and the rush that seems to come, I always yearn for more intentional pauses and moments of rest to connect with what is most important. Let's be honest: the holidays are exhausting for everyone, and sometimes we lose sight of what is coming!
Recently, I was interviewed for this article, "Sabbath Rest Isn't Just for Sundays," and as we talked about rest, I was reminded how vital and elusive rest can be, especially as we move closer to Advent. Mostly, though, it is countercultural. But it does not have to be hard, even busy people can find rest, trust me. For more on that, I recommend you read the article and then the fantastic book by Tricia Hersey, "Rest is Resistance."
The rest I am talking about is not just about catching up on sleep or taking a break from the holiday frenzy. It's a deliberate act of self-care that nurtures our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. And it goes against the holiday calendar.
As I write in the pages of "Fully Human, Fully Divine," it is possible to slow down and savor the coming of Christ. But it is also a practice. It is true - we find true rest when we rest in God.
This short reflection is a simple reminder (and hopefully encouragement) that this holiday season does not have to be an exhausting flurry of activities. It can be a time of profound connection with those around you and your whole self as you savor the season.
Let's slow down together and savor the season's gifts as we rest in God's hope, peace, joy, and love. Rested is the way to await the Christ child!
I would love to accompany you along the way. You can download your 2023 Advent Calendar and find additional resources here: WhitneyRSimpson.com/Advent.
How will you find rest and savor what is to come?
There's no sale here. No Black Friday ad. No click funnel. Nope. I'm not that great at sales.
I am great at sharing with you what I'm passionate about - and making sure you pay attention to and take care of your body and spirit. That's why I'm so excited about this Advent season and journeying with you through my new book, Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Advent Devotional for the Whole Self.
My friends, I LOVE the seasons of Advent and Christmas. But it's not always easy. Not all my Christmas memories are joy-filled and positive, and neither are yours. I had a stroke nearly 17 years ago - on my December birthday - that left me in a hospital room for Advent 2005. You could say that this shift in my journey invited me into more presence and embodiment. That crisis changed my life and asked me to be present in my body in entirely different and new ways with God. It actually helped me discover more hope.
But guess what? You do not need a crisis to journey closer to God this Advent season. You just need a little bit of hope and the time set aside time to do it. A reader emailed me this week that she couldn't get the book in time for Advent. I told her that was just fine, to practice presence until it arrived! Your journey is not confined to the calendar. But if you're like me and need a little accountability that does include a calendar, I have a free one for you. I'll be coloring in my days with words or images and some markers noting when I feel close to God.
Also, here's an early invitation from the book to get you started. I hope you'll use it amidst the scrolling of sales to kindle some hope in a world that truly needs it.
Close your eyes and ask yourself: Where do you feel hope in your body? Many of us connect to hope with our heart or our gut. Maybe hope to you is more about reason and thought, and you feel it in your head. Maybe for you hope is about doing something, and you feel it in your hands and your feet. Think about where you feel hope. Take a few breaths and try to connect with where you feel it inside yourself. Then, place a hand on that part of your body and breathe. If you are struggling to connect hope with a physical part of yourself, simply place a hand over your heart and ask God for hope as you breathe.
When you are ready to move on, ask yourself if there is a part of you that is holding back from feeling hope, perhaps even to protect you. It's not uncommon for us to put up walls to avoid disappointment. This is a normal response. However, I invite you to think about what it would look like to hope with your entire being. What would it mean this season? What could it look like?
As a Christian, you already know the end of the Advent story. Christ is coming! Not "Christ might come," or "Christ will get around to coming eventually," but "Christ is coming." The gift of Christ is the physical symbol of our hope in human form. Christ is God with us, let that fill you with hope for the days to come!
I've been working on something exciting while patiently waiting to share it with you. Finally, the title of my Advent devotional for 2022 is available to share!
Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Advent Devotional for the Whole Self
Ah, this captures the invitation of an embodied journey with the embodied Christ! Each week of this devotional provides prompts for using your whole self to meet God as you prepare to receive the hope, peace, joy, and love the Advent season offers you.
This book, published by Upper Room Books, will be available in plenty of time for Christmas 2022. Most exciting, an e-course option from the publisher will be available. That means they are recording bonus content for me to share with you, and you (or your small group) can journey through the book with ME. But if you want the behind-the-scenes scoop all along the way next year, be sure to join our new online community. I'll share the details there first as we prepare to release this new content and experience for Christmas next year.
Thanks for celebrating this new release with me and make plans now to journey with me toward Christmas 2022!
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC