Advent thoughts

by James Fawcett December 20, 2014 A

I’ve been thinking in a particular way this year about the waiting of Advent: the expectation of the coming event, the frustration implicit in the anticipation. This got me thinking about how we walk this time of Advent with young people, how do we explain the waiting of life? How can we live in it? How do we handle the anticipation, and the ‘real’ journey towards Christmas rather that the hype that so often encompasses it?

Young people are continually in a time of waiting; waiting for adulthood and the expectations that that might bring, waiting for ‘The Future’. As youthworkers we can pose the classic questions of responsible adults:  ‘what do you want to be when you are older?’, ‘what are you doing after your  GCSE’s/ A-Levels?’ As we do so, we join in with the constant desire to be in the future without necessarily marking the difficult place of the present. The place of ‘today’ for young people is itself constantly in flux, and so difficult to pinpoint – moving from childhood to adulthood, physically, emotionally, spiritually changing, waiting for more.

Some have argued that youth work is all about transitioning people from childhood to adulthood as if the goal is adulthood. I wonder how we can help young people enjoy being content in the moment and grappling with naming the day to day reality .  I’m not sure it is something we are very good at as youth workers. Targets propel us towards the end goal, the end product – working towards opening that shiny present under the tree. Once that is opened and achieved, we are onto the next one.

We hope that there are many presents waiting for you in this time ahead with your young people, but pray that even if you feel like there is nothing, you can see there, in the truest sense of Christmas, a God who – incarnated – lived a life that was messy, painful and vulnerable as much as it was miraculous.