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Habits of Light for a World of Darkness

The Common Rule: Advent 2023


The Common Rule Advent Edition is a set of four daily habits designed to help you lean into the rich meaning of Advent — that Jesus has come to renew all things.

Rooted in the idea that our most ordinary of habits are forming our souls in the most extraordinary of ways, The Common Rule invites you to a new set of habits for Advent.

FAQsLink to this section

What are the habits?

The Common Rule habits for Advent are summarized in visual form on the following page. You can also follow along on Instagram @justinwhitmelearley or subscribe to my email list for more on each habit. 

Why Advent?

Advent is the season where the church celebrates the King who has come, and waits for the King who is coming again. The holiday season is filled with rituals that seem to sparkle on the outside, but underneath aren’t celebrating anything but consumerism. Further, they are often filled with such busyness that we end up spending the season cultivating perpetual rush rather than patient longing. We need a new set of rituals for Advent, and that is exactly what The Common Rule — Advent Edition! has in mind.

When is Advent? Advent starts on Sunday, December 3, 2023 and lasts until Christmas Eve. The scripture readings in this resource, however, walk you all the way through the New Year.

Why Habits?

Habits — even our most mundane ones — are matters of worship, and thus powerfully formational. This is even more true during the holidays. Many of our rituals andcustoms are rooted in the worship of consumerism and greed while thinly cloaked in Christian words. The Common Rule — Advent Edition! is one way to resist how these customs form us, and embrace the way the incarnation of Christ the King forms us.

Isn’t this Legalistic? No! Legalism is the misguided idea that doing the right things will earn us God’s love. We reject it. The incarnation is the astounding truth that though we were lost God came to us anyway. Practicing a new set of habits is not going to earn you His love — you already have it! It is a response to that love. It is an expression of thanks, hope, and a desire to practice the love that the incarnation 

The Four HabitsLink to this section

1. Kneeling prayer 3 times-a-day

By stopping three times a day to kneel and pray, we are trying to punctuate our day with prayer so that our Christmas season is framed by something besides holiday busyness.

These short prayers will instead help frame your day in longing for the light of Advent — Jesus the Messiah, who has come and will come again to make all things new! In the Prayer & Reading Plan on page 5 you will find three short, one sentence prayers, for morning, midday and evening.

The act of kneeling has a way of grabbing the attention of the body, which is one way of grabbing the attention of the mind. Try it. It will be more significant than may you think.

2. Light a candle

This is a tactile way to be reminded of the promise of Advent — that Christ is light, and the light has come and the light will come again. There are many ways to practice this habit, but my favorite is the way our family does it before dinner. Each night before eating, we start the meal by lighting a candle and together saying: Christ is light.” This is a meaningful way to get family and kids participating in Advent rhythms, but you’ll find it just as significant eating with roommates or eating alone. If nothing else, small habits like this help set apart seasons, and make time feel different — that’s part of the point of Advent.

3. Scripture before phone

Refusing to check our phones until after we read a passage of scripture means that we ask first Who am I, and who am I becoming?”, not, What do I need to do today?” The Advent Edition provides a short scripture to read each morning — before you use your phone. The goal is to be formed first in the love of God instead of the demands of the day. I suggest printing out the Prayer & Reading Plan on page 5 and keeping it beside your bed or on your coffee table.

4. No phone while waiting

Life often asks us to wait. In traffic and elevators, at stoplights and grocery lines. But we don’t know how to wait. We don’t like to wait. So we fill the time with useless, distracted glances at our phones. Through the season of Advent, do not touch your phone while waiting. Learn to wait. Look around you, look at all the people with their stories and their lives just as real, as beautiful, and as painful as yours. See them. Be present. Talk to them.

Learn to wait, learn to long, learn to remember that all of creation waits for the King to return.

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Week 1: Light and Dark

Week 2: Lost and Found

Week 3: He is Coming