A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3
In the liturgical church, the season of Advent precedes Christmas and is a time of waiting and preparation for Jesus’ birth. It should be a time of reflection and of readying our hearts for a season of renewal in Christ to see what new thing he will birth in us.
Matthew 25 tells us about wise and foolish virgins. They were all waiting for the bridegroom to come so they could participate in the festivities. Five of the women had spent time in preparation, making certain they would be ready for the bridegroom’s arrival. The other women either hadn’t prepared or hadn’t anticipated the long wait. All the virgins knew the bridegroom was coming, but only half of them had gotten ready for his arrival. The other half missed the whole event.
Advent charges us to prepare for Christ’s inauspicious coming, not the gawdy commercialization tempting to distract us in so many ways. Even the shopper’s countdown to December 25 is filled with a sense of urgency. But Advent quietly draws us into relationship with him, into his peace, into his love, into his wholeness. Yes, it’s a precious time of waiting and preparation.
Here are just a few things we can do to get ready for Jesus:
Thoughtfully, reread the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel (1:5-56; 2:1-20). Prayerfully, in your mind’s eye, become a participant of the wonder of Jesus’ incarnation.
Make an Advent Wreath, light a candle each week, and read an Advent devotion (www.cru.org).
Meditate on the meaning of Christ’s coming for the world.
The French verb, manger, means “to eat.” How could this possibly relate to the life of the Babe lying in the manger?
List the many ways Emmanuel has affected your life.
Find ways to demonstrate Christ’s love for others (http://adrielbooker.com/family-advent-activities).
Sit quietly in contemplative prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak.
To enjoy this beautiful season, we have to intentionally engage with Christ Jesus rather than getting distracted by the mad rush of buying, and cooking, and festivities. Do the shopping and cooking and celebrating, but keep Jesus at the forefront of everything. (A little preplanning helps.)
May this Advent season find us all closer to our Lord, sitting with Mary at his feet, and not busy about so many things that we miss out on his coming.
Father, the world is so much with us that we often miss out on the joy of being in your presence. Remind us to stop and wait for you; to be still and know. Our hearts are willing. Help us to rest in you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.