Advent 2020 warrants a special time of recollection. After the crazy year that was, the opportunity to stop and reflect on what has gone on and how we have been in that is extra important this year. As I have done for the past few years, I have used my fingernails to help me with the Advent season.
For me, the painting of my fingernails often reflects the season of the Catholic Church that we are celebrating. For Advent, I paint them purple and pink which are the colours of the Advent candles.
RELATED: Those Advent Fingernails
This year, as I look at my fingernails, I am constantly recalling the year gone by. Advent is derived from the Latin meaning ‘coming’ – and during the time of Advent in our church, we are preparing the way for the coming of Christ. This Advent, I would suggest we are also preparing for the coming of 2021, a year that hopefully offers more hope and joy than 2020!
However, I am sure a lot of us would be selling 2020 short if we only focused on the challenges that this year threw out. 2020 also presented many opportunities. For me, at home with my children for more time than I can ever remember, it was truly a time to learn who they were. We spent a lot of time in close proximity. Not always smooth sailing, but a time of learning and growing none the less.
In the Diocese of Parramatta, I was able to share in the creativity of my colleagues as new online communities were created. There were new ways of gathering, new technologies employed and exciting projects launched as a result of the new way of working.
A highlight for me was the launch of The Well, an online platform which hosts a variety of faith resources covering all areas of life and faith. A project I was involved with and available on The Well is ‘Saturday Sessions’ – a weekly online community that meets to discuss a video, podcast or discussion paper viewed prior to gathering for an hour on Saturday mornings. The group started meeting in April and since then, there have been over 100 people come along over the months and have listened to and discussed 32 different speakers and topics – some local speakers and some from around the world.
From this simple idea, community was formed, friends made, and there was amazing sharing and growing of faith. The resources have been used and shared across the diocese in people’s homes, in small groups in parishes, for professional formation and on retreat days.
I am pretty certain that Saturday Sessions and I dare say even The Well would not have happened if we weren’t forced to look at new ways of operating this year.
So, as I look at my Advent nails this year – the purple and pink of the Advent candles – I think of the hope that the coming of Christ at Christmas offers and the hope and joy experienced this year in so many new ways despite the challenges.
May the challenges and opportunities of 2020 be part of our thanksgiving this Christmas and may we always be comforted by the knowledge that through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, there is always hope.
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.