As each year draws to a close, and Christmas fast approaches, we tend to focus on what is obvious – putting up our decorations, trimming our tree, shopping for friends and family and eating every type of desert known to man.
And before you know it, time has escaped us.
Suddenly it’s Christmas Eve night and all the wonders that come with it – reflecting on Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angels singing, the shepherds in the field, the wise men beginning their decent from the east, all culminating in “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
But wait! Are we even prepared for Christmas? Prepared for all of the beauty and wonder of Christmas?
Before the coming of our Lord, is the season of Advent. A time of preparation.
The world tells us that Christmas is about filling our homes with bright lights and greenery, attending office parties, singing carols, listening to Handel’s “Messiah” or the latest pop star’s new Christmas album. The world encourages us to shop, shop and shop!
I love Christmas just as much as anyone (maybe more). But should we not also be more intentional (and joyful) when practicing and experiencing the season of Advent? The coming of our Lord!
How to Prepare for Christmas, through Advent
And what should we be doing to prepare for the coming of our Lord? The obvious things are:
- Meditate on our Lord’s impending birth
- Give to those in need
- Feed the hungry
- Clothe the homeless
- Be kind to others
- Be satisfied with what we have (gratitude)
But perhaps it is not possible for you to go out and help the “homeless.” That’s fine – OK, then how about helping those in your own home?
What ways can we prepare our hearts for the coming of Baby Jesus – in our own homes? How about patience – toward those nearest you? Be more willing to listen, less eager to criticize? Give of your time and your person and not necessarily of your money.
We can also practice more patience with those outside of our homes – especially in stores or driving on the road (Christmas shopping traffic!). We can be more giving and patient toward those in the workplace. Maybe we can be less prideful and more humble.
How about being more temperate with our sweet tooth (or teeth, for that matter)?
Advent challenges us to understand the Christmas season in the contexts of the coming of Christ. Advent also offers us a powerful alternative to the commercialization of Christmas. A reason to exclaim “Merry Christmas!” instead of a bland and politically correct “Happy Holidays.”
A Season for Giving
I’m sure you’ve heard it before; Christmas is a season for giving.
Then make it so. Give to those in need.
I’m sure you’ve heard that Christmas is a time for feasting.
Then make it so. Help to feed those around you who can’t afford to do so.
I’m sure you’ve heard that Christmas is a season of joy, hope and peace.
Then make it so. Grow in these virtues by putting them into practice with friends, family, neighbors and strangers. And most importantly, with the whole reason there is Christmas, for God.
And the next time someone asks you, “Are you ready for Christmas?” you can honestly say, “I’m not but I’m trying to be with the help of the season of Advent.”