My Prayer Not Your Ordinary Advent by Elizabeth Bayardi For the past few years, I have served as an editor and resource project manager for Life Teen. Although not my original, perfectly laid out plan for my life, I have found deep joy and purpose in what I do, reminding me that God’s plan for our lives is always far better than what we dream up for ourselves. While I spend a lot of time working on the resources we create for youth groups and books we publish for teens, one of the more exciting parts of my job relates to a wonderful season that is quickly approaching: Advent. Each year, Life Teen releases a companion that is designed to help teens journey through the season of Advent. In the past, this companion has been story-based, offering personal reflections from a variety of writers and questions for further reflection. While those types of companions have helped many people enter deeper into the Advent season, I felt called to try something new this year, to try something more unique and innovative. Been There, Done That Given that Advent rolls around each and every year, it is easy for us to enter into the season with a “been there, done that” attitude. We have heard the story of the Nativity more times than we can count (so many times, in fact, that we could probably tell it in our sleep). We know there was no room at the inn, so Jesus was born in a manger. We know there was a great, beautiful star in the sky that night. We know the shepherds and the wise men visited baby Jesus. We know the wise men offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We know the birth of our Lord was a significant moment in history and is foundational for our faith. But since we are oh so familiar with this story, it can be difficult for us to offer a fresh, new perspective on it year after year. So, this year, we decided to take a new approach to Advent. We’re Going to Wreck Advent This year’s Advent companion is the most innovative companion we have ever created. Resulting from many, many brainstorm sessions where we worked through many, many not-so-great ideas, “Create. Destroy. Redeem.” is a completely new way to enter into the season of Advent. This year, we decided to change the lens through which we view the coming of our Savior at Christmas. This year, we are focusing on the Beatitudes. While it may seem rather random to incorporate the Beatitudes during Advent — the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gives us the Beatitudes is not actually included in any of the readings during Advent — it actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. You see, the Beatitudes are the undoing of the world we have created, a world that needs to be wrecked so the Kingdom of God can be built. Likewise, the birth of our Savior at Christmas is the un-wrecking of our world, as the brokenness we have caused in our world is redeemed through Christ, who makes all things new. This idea of wrecking is central to this year’s Advent companion. Create. Destroy. Redeem. This year’s Advent companion contains a unique, semi-destructive (some highly destructive) challenge for each day of the Advent season. There are also QR codes in the companion that allow you to access video reflections on the Beatitudes that were created by Life Teen staff members exclusively for this companion. These videos seek to break open the power of the Beatitudes, orienting them toward Advent and reframing them as an invitation to let grace destroy humanity’s feeble attempt to satisfy ourselves apart from God. If you complete all of the challenges and watch all of the videos, you will find that this companion will look nothing like what you started with by the time Christmas rolls around. But you’re not in it alone. Each member of the Life Teen staff is going to be using this companion to journey through Advent alongside you. You can see videos of Life Teen staff members completing the challenges on Life Teen’s Instagram story (@lifeteen) each day during Advent. So, if you’re ready to wreck your Advent, order a copy of “Create. Destroy. Redeem.” today! When Advent rolls around, we encourage you to grab your group of friends, complete the challenges, watch the videos, and share your experience on social media using #LTAdvent (be sure to tag @lifeteen in your posts). I hope you have the merriest of Advents!