“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13
The countdown begins, and there are officially 4 more weeks until Christmas! Today we begin the season of Advent.
What is Advent? Advent is 4 weeks long. It is a special time of preparation and joyful anticipation for the birth of Christ. We all know how busy this season can get, with shopping, buying everyone you love the perfect gifts, all the Christmas parties, the gift exchanges, the decorations, the list goes on. Though the busy-ness of the holidays often takes over, as we prepare for Christmas, we are called to make time to sit with our Lord who loved us enough to become man.
Together, let us slow down and take the time to remember what matters most this season.
It’s a time to give gifts, yes –but also to give of ourselves.
A time to give presents, but also to be present with others.
A time to prepare our homes for guests, but also to prepare our hearts for Jesus.
As we prepare for Christ’s birth, we enter into a season of hope. Here are 4 things to practice/think about during this season that will help us truly remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
“when no one listens to me anymore, God listens to me”
Sometimes when we pray, we think we have to go away to some secret place and center ourselves alone. Prayer takes us in, centers us, and then allows us to open ourselves to others. In this openness, we can seek to be more kind, more giving more loving, more selfless. To pray unceasingly is being aware & knowing God is present in us & in others. In becoming aware of God’s presence, we can pray continually & unceasingly.
How many times do we have busy days and put God on the back burner, saying “I will pray about it later.” There are many forms of prayer. Choose one this season. Whether its your favorite form of prayer, a new form of prayer, or an old form you haven’t practiced in a while. Take the time to pray, through vocal prayer, scripture, singing, contemplation, meditation, time in adoration, whatever you find works for you –do it.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. Psalms 62:1
Take the time to practice giving of yourself and being truly present. Somewhere not too far from where you live, someone is saying a prayer; asking God to send someone to visit him/her and lift him up out of the depths of loneliness. Visit the sick, the lonely, listen to a friend, visit or call your grandparents/parents/family/a friend, volunteer at your local food bank, participate in a toy drive. There a so many options. When we become aware of the great loneliness of this world, we can come to others during this season – bring joy, light, happiness, & kindness.
“We can do no great things – only small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa.
“It’s true we suffer a great deal, but do we suffer well? Thats the question.”
The simple habit of suffering/self denial is a spiritual habit. It leads to the great skills of delaying pleasures the world offers us. In order to become our best selves we must deny our lesser self & find our true selves. When we decide to suffer in small ways & delay the pleasures of this world, our lives will improve in a thousand ways. Let us practice self control, delayed gratification, and fasting this season. “Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.” – St. Augustine. God wants us to have a strong mind, heart, and spirit – so that we can soar with strength that the world cannot weigh down. During this season, let us practice a spirit of prayer and fasting to humble ourselves in the same way Jesus did as he was born in the simplicity of a manger.
Challenge: Say no to yourself at least once every day for a week/during this advent season.
#4 Final Judgement
God is interested in us as a whole person, not just for the one hour that we are at church or when we are doing good things. He loves us wholly & completely. He yearns to be born in our hearts and reminds us of that during this season. He wants us to share His joy with others. So, in thinking about Jesus’s coming : We are reminded to always be prepared. For we don’t know the time or the day. May we live out this season living in constant preparation for His coming and practicing that throughout our lives. Because in the end, it brings to light four things: Heaven, Hell, Death, and Judgement.
“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. May He not come suddenly & find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Mark 13: 33 & 37
🕯Pray: Jesus, help me to become a person of hope this Advent. Fill my whole mind, my whole body, and my whole soul with hope. To live in constant preparation of your coming; bringing to light your love & spreading that joy with all those around me.