As I wrote about a few weeks ago, our smartphones can often deprive us of the ability to live in the present moment. If we want to capture every moment, we’re not able to experience the moment as it unfolds for just us, the audience of one. I think the opposite is also true, as well. Our smartphones can be a tool for fostering spiritual growth. Enter the advent photo challenge. This year our congregation challenged itself to participate in an advent photo challenge whereby we would think of a word that’s associated with advent and post an image related to that word. This isn’t an original idea, there are lots of Instagram challenges out there, and a well known advent photo challenge hosted by the United Methodist Church (rethinkchurch.org) I wanted to challenge our congregation to do its own for a variety of reasons: to foster community among our own congregation, to make our church known to our own friends and family members, and to spread the word in our neighborhood.
I figured that the activity cost us nothing. If it flopped and nobody participated, all we were out is an hour or two of preparation and promotion. If it were to be a success, it had the potential to bring some attention to our congregation and give our congregants a new way to experience their faith. What I wasn’t counting on was how meaningful I would find the activity in my own spiritual journey. This week I’ve found that the “word of the day” hasn’t just been an impetus for finding an image that would work for the challenge, it’s been a word that’s stuck with me the whole day, a word I’ve meditated on and come to experience with greater depth throughout the day.
What would you say if I told you my mom was in the hospital on the “trust” day, or that I received a long awaited notice on the “wait” day or that on the day of “quiet” I had a few minutes to myself to ponder the week behind me? Would you say it was an amazing coincidence? I wouldn’t. I would say that those things were in my mind because of the photo challenge, hour after hour, those words have been with me, and they have allowed me to listen to the voice of the Spirit, guided by those prompts.
It’s been fun, and meaningful, to think about God being present to me each day, in these words and images, and I’ve loved seeing everyone’s contributions as well. It’s not to late to join #NPCADVENT