Baking bread can be a profound spiritual lesson.
I have a new living organism—for lack of a better term—to feed in my house. It is my sourdough starter, a beige and pasty mix of wheat flour, water, and yeast that lives in a glass jar in the back of the refrigerator. Once a week it visits the kitchen counter, where it is replenished with water, flour, and oxygen. I sometimes divide it and use half for sourdough crackers or flatbread.
Find joy in life's small moments of wonder.
For the times I line up the wheels of my car into the tracks that lead into the car wash tunnel without the guidance of an attendant. The thrill is akin to parallel parking with just an inch on either side, on the first try. I feel like I’m a pilot or an astronaut and if I do nothing else good that day, You will remind me, that night, as I lay my head down on my pillow, how I rocked the car wash tracks.
Advent can help us draw out the God-with-us moments from our regular traditions.
Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t need to be one more “to do” on a family’s already packed December calendar. Jesus was born to bring peace, not stress. The word Emmanuel means God-with-us, and the antiphon of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” that defines Advent can help us draw out the God-with-us moments from our regular traditions.
Write Christmas cards
Although some people dread the annual stack of cards, envelopes, and stamps, for Elizabeth and Franc the cards provide time for Advent reflection.
Interfaith families are celebrating the holidays in unique and meaningful ways.
Samira Mehta started studying contemporary interfaith families, she says, because of lunch with a friend. Her classmate, an Episcopal seminarian, had recently met a teenage boy preparing for both his bar mitzvah and confirmation, and her friend expressed frustration with the lack of resources available to interfaith families in similar situations.
To many mothers, Mary is a relevant role model.
Two years ago, when we were already busy with three young children, our family was blessed with Ezra. Right away we knew our fourth baby was the most go-with-the-flow of the bunch; he basically had to be, constantly consumed by the chaos of our busy lives. He was baptized on the first Sunday of Advent and we looked forward to celebrating the Christmas season with another child in tow.
Tell people you're thankful for them.
During this month that nudges us to give thanks, let me give a shout-out to people over the past year who’ve given me moments of joy and hope.
How to find God in a feuding family.
The visiting priest spoke fondly in his homily about his growing up. Then he said, “Aren’t we all so lucky to have such great, loving families?” My husband and I glanced at each other quizzically. Our parish domestic violence ministry is growing steadily; the divorce group is growing strong, as is the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
That makes us just like any other parish. Many in the pews were doubtless thinking, “I’m happy for you, Father, but that’s not quite my experience.”
Our baptism commits us to be brothers and sisters to all the children of God.
Three real-life events from the past several months:
Instead of protecting kids from death and sadness, teach them the value of mourning well.
As we honor our dead in this month of all Souls—November 2, so you can mark it at home with your children—let me say that I think we are too afraid of death, and that this is not good for our kids or for us.
My son and daughter complain that my husband and I brought them to more wakes than any kid in town. They are probably right. We still live in the city of our birth, and people, as usual, tend to keep dying: friends’ parents, fellow parishioners, neighbors. This year it was our friends’ son, only in his 20s.
Using the prayer in your family’s day-to-day life will make it come alive when kids recite it in church.
We say it every week in church, and it’s the prayer that most unifies Christians of every denomination. For children, though, the Our Father can be one long line of seldom-used and difficult to understand words and phrases. Helping kids to break down the prayer into smaller, more understandable bits at home will give them a better sense of its meaning. Using parts of the prayer in your family’s day-to-day life will make it come alive when kids recite it in church.