June 6, 2024

Advent Guide Art Submissions Now Open


Advent: What Are You Waiting For? 

I’ve learned how much the Advent season holds,
how it breaks into our lives with images of light and dark,
first and last things, watchfulness and longing, origin and destiny.
Kathleen Norris
(Quoted in Living the Christian Year, Bobby Gross)


Some form of Advent, or preparation for Christmas, has been practiced by Christians since early in the history of the Church. Its place in the Christian calendar makes space for us to remember the longings of those who came before Christ, and it recognizes that in spite of the arrival of God in the life of Jesus, there’s still so much that God hasn’t done yet. There’s still so much injustice. There’s still much that’s broken. There’s still so much need for healing and wholeness. 

So we join with those who have come before us by letting this question provoke us:

What are you waiting for? 

It’s hard to wait. It’s hard to acknowledge that some of the things we long for most – some of the things we need the most – don’t arrive on any timeline that we can control. We wonder if they’ll ever arrive at all. 

With all the lines we’ve drawn, with all the enemies we’ve created, with all the unjust divisions and privileges that raise up some while pulling down others, will we ever really learn how to love one another? Will there ever be real peace in the world? 

With all the suffering, all the illness, all the ways that we’re unwell – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – will we ever find healing? 

With all the loneliness that so many of us feel – not just a loneliness for human company, but a loneliness for God – will we ever find that Presence that can truly hold us? 

It’s tempting to pretend that we’re not waiting for anything. It’s tempting to pretend that everything is fine, and we’re in control, and the things we need are right on schedule. But they’re not. And we’d be better off if we shared the honesty and vulnerability of the Psalmist who cries out: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13)

The question, though (what are you waiting for?) could be heard another way, and there’s another way of honoring advent, too. 

Because while so many of our longings are unfulfilled, and so much of the world can feel bleak and absent of the presence of God, Advent means “arrival”. It’s a season where we light candles in the dark, keeping vigil, because we believe that God has already arrived, and that God will continue to arrive. God has lived God’s life in a body not unlike our own. God has taken up residence in the human experience, having wrapped Godself up in flesh and blood. It’s a season to train our senses for the already-here presence of God, and to stop waiting to do our part in the world. If God has already lived God’s life in a body like ours, then maybe it’s time for us to stop waiting and start doing. Maybe the vigil of Advent is one that calls us to see the opportunities that are right in front of us, and so when Advent asks us what are you waiting for? it invites us to act. 

The people of South Bend City Church – local South Bend members, and our whole long-distance family – are invited to submit works of art to help us create an Advent guidebook that will help people sit with the questions of Advent and prepare for the feast of Christmas. The book will feature one work of art for each day of Advent, along with prompts for reflection, and a Scripture text appropriate to Advent. Along with the art submitted by SBCC members, the book will also include works from some friends of SBCC and from the history of the Church. We’ll be grafting our new works into the witness of those who have come before us. 

What kind of art? Good question! All kinds of art:

  • Visual art, including paintings, photography, needlework, drawings, digital or graphic design
  • Written pieces, whether poetry or prose
  • Songs whose lyrics can be included in the book and whose audio can be linked so people can listen
  • Sculpture (we’d include a photo or several photos of the piece in the book)
  • A reflection on an older work of art in the public domain (e.g. you could find a historical icon that depicts an Advent theme and write a reflection inspired by the piece.)
  • And any other medium that could somehow be represented in a book


The prompt is pretty straightforward: create something that responds to the question what are you waiting for? You could run with the first sense of that question described above, referring to an unfulfilled longing for God or for God’s good world. You could run with the second sense of that question described above, referring to the invitation to stop waiting and start doing, to take seriously the gift of God’s life in us right now. Or you could create something that responds to both senses of that question. This is what’s sometimes called the “already/not-yet” nature of God’s kingdom, and the Advent art that you create will help us hold that tension.

A few important notes:

  • You’ll be releasing us to use your work in a printed and digital book that’s designed for perpetual use over many years. (This isn’t just for one year of Advent; it’s meant to be a perennial resource that would work any year.)
  • The final book will be a curated collection, which means we’ll have to make some hard choices about which submissions are included. With only so many days in Advent, and with some of those days featuring work from other sources, we won’t be able to include everyone’s work in the final project. 


Submission Guidelines – SUBMIT HERE
(Due to the submission guidelines of Google Forms, you need a Google account to submit. If you do not have a Google Account, please email

  • Submissions are due August 11th, 2024
  • Work must be original to the artist. 
  • The book will be an all-ages resource, so art must be appropriate for all audiences.


If you want to revisit the teachings on these themes from last Advent, you can find those below:
Week 1 Teaching – Intro and overview
Week 2 Teaching – Unfulfilled longings
Week 3 Teaching – Invitation to action

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