Advent isn’t about being warm, or having the house well stocked, or even about feeling festive on Christmas morning.
As we enter December, we are also entering the season of Advent. Advent, much like the season of Lent before Easter, is meant to be a season of preparation.
But what does that mean?
Honestly, an easy way to think about it is the same way we think about preparing for many other things during this time of the year. We know that winter is coming, and with it our usual mix of snow, ice, and cold weather. And so, in preparation, many of us have spent time digging our winter coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and other things from the backs of closets. We’ve stocked up on salt for the driveway and made sure that our snow shovels and snow blowers are ready to go. Similarly, we have begun preparing our homes for Christmas by pulling our decorations out of the garage, attic, basement, crawlspace, or wherever else we’ve stored them since last year. And we’re making plans to bake cookies, make candy, bake pies, and whatever else needs done to make us feel “ready” for the arrival of Christmas day.
Some of us, and I am one of them, need this time. It is sometimes hard for me to feel festive at Christmas. I drift more easily toward “humbug” than to “Ho ho ho.” And so to prepare, I deliberately try to listen to Christmas music, and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and other classic Christmas specials that we grew up with, along with various Hallmark Christmas movies on television.
But Advent isn’t about being warm, or having the house well stocked, or even about feeling festive on Christmas morning.
Advent is about our heart condition.
Advent asks us to think about whether or not our hearts are ready to receive the Christ child at Christmas. Advent asks us if we are ready to accept the greatest gift that God has ever offered to us. And so, for four weeks, we are offered this season of preparation. This is a time for us to consider the condition of our hearts. To read, and to listen to the stories of scripture, to fellowship and sing with others and, just as we are preparing our homes, to prepare our hearts so that we will be truly “ready” for Christmas and the arrival of God’s greatest gift to humanity.
So consider this an invitation to the season of Advent. Come with us on a journey together. Let us spend time worshipping together, singing together, and studying together. I invite you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Perhaps to pick up an Advent devotional and have a few moments of daily quiet time alone with God.
You wouldn’t dream of being snowed in this winter without coats and hats, shovels and salt, and a pantry full of food (with a few cookies and fudge).
You want to be prepared.
The Savior of the world is coming. God’s greatest gift.
Please take the time to prepare your heart as well.