It is so crazy to me that we are already halfway through Advent. I know that it is just over 4 weeks, but I always feel like this season passes a lot faster than Lent or Easter. It’s so easy to get caught up on the business of the season; buying gifts, finishing a semester of school, getting work done before vacation, packing to travel. There is always so much too at the end of the year, that I tend to forget about the season of Advent. Recently I was with a group of friends doing a Bible study and some of them mentioned that their favorite liturgical season is Advent. When I asked them why, most of them responded that they enjoyed the peace and calmness that comes with Advent; the waiting and the anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming.” Jesus is coming. We celebrate Christmas to remember the birth (coming) of Jesus. We also celebrate Advent to anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus in a spirit of hope. The Gospel from the First Sunday of Advent says:
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” –MT 24:37-44
One will be taken, and one will be left!? I don’t know about you, but I surely do not want to be left behind. So Jesus tells us that we need to be prepared. In the season of Advent, being prepared doesn’t mean that you make sure that you have all your gifts ready, and prepare for some time off. It means preparing for the coming of the Lord. I want to give you some practical ways that you can prepare yourself during the rest of this Advent season. I know it’s halfway over, but I’m a glass half full type of gal, so we still have 2 whole weeks to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. So let’s slow down and take the time to prepare.
- What do you do when you are preparing to host someone or a group of people? You clean, you make sure things look nice, and you get ready to enjoy time together. For myself, I turn on my kettle, get out my wide assortment of teas, and light a few candles. I want my home to be a place of welcome and warmth. In this advent season, take some extra time to prepare your space for Jesus’s coming. Create a welcoming space, even if it means a small wreath or a picture up on your wall.
- Slow down in the evenings and spend some time in prayer. Reading the daily Mass readings can be helpful. During the season of Advent, the first reading is typically from the Prophet Isaiah and prepare us for the coming of the Messiah. Sit by your Christmas tree, light a candle, or you Advent wreath, and spend time with God. This is a season of hope. Ask the Lord to fill your mind and heart with hope.
- Practice gratitude. The season of Christmas can be filled with greed. So many stores tell you that you need to find the perfect gift, no matter the price. Or they try to sell you something that you don’t actually need, causing people to break the bank just to make other people happy. Instead, spend time every day being thankful for what you already have; your family, friends, time, etc. The one gift that you can never get back is someone’s time, so the best gift you can give is your time to other people.
- Go to confession. Even though Advent is not a penitential season (it’s confusing because of the purple), it is a great time to ask for forgiveness for our sins, and purify our hearts to prepare for Jesus to come into our hearts at Christmas.
There ya go. A few practical things to do to bring calmness and peace into this Advent season. Let’s prepare our hearts for Jesus to come, so that we are not the one left behind, and let Him fill our hearts and minds with hope. Happy Advent!