Preparing Your Heart for Christmas
November 23, 2022 | Jeff Coleman
It seems I say the same thing every year.
“THIS Advent/Christmas season will be different! THIS year I will slow down and make time for myself, friends, and family. THIS year I’ll enjoy the spiritual side of the season and draw closer to God. THIS year I’ll move slower, get the shopping done sooner, cleaning and preparing done earlier so that I can have a few quiet moments to simply enjoy the season.” Sound familiar?
What generally happens is life gets busier faster, the cleaning, preparing start encroaching sooner. Unscheduled demands slowly crowd out my originally scheduled “God time.” Never mind that fact that there are so many other competing events, which require our attention. Whether it’s our kids' and grandkids' Christmas programs, church happenings, obligatory work events, Christmas parties, and friendly holiday get togethers . . . by this point in the holiday season we might be thinking, “Oh, well . . . better luck NEXT YEAR.” And, in so doing, we resign ourselves to another-less-than-spiritually-stellar Christmas season.
No so fast.
The season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation. A season where we prepare our hearts for the arrival of God. Because we think we need to prepare for this life-changing event we automatically believe we have a lot of work to do. “Well, that’s just GREAT!” You may be thinking. “Another holiday to do item to be ticked off between vacuuming the stairs and wrapping Christmas gifts.”
What if getting ready for Christmas isn’t something you do, but rather it was something God did in you? Someone said, “Advent is about letting God come to us. We do the letting and God does the coming. And, the whole mystery of our faith is that God is not reluctant to come into an unusual relationship (like Mary and Joseph’s) or to be born in the poverty of a makeshift stable. We are tempted to prepare for Advent by cleaning everything up first – by, in effect, saving ourselves first. Our opening to Advent is to realize we need saving and to accept the saving love of our God – who comes to us rather than us coming to God.”
When you feel like you’ve blown it and this Advent/holiday season is a bust, here’s a few simple, sustainable, and accessible ways to get things back on track despite the busyness of the season.
- Pray simple prayers: Keep your prayers simple as you go about your day. Here’s a few ideas: “Jesus, you entered the messiness of the world. Come, and enter mine.” OR “Come into my life. I trust you don’t mind if it is still messy. I know you love me because I need your love, so I receive your love.” OR “Come, Lord Jesus Christ and be born again in me. Fill me with the peace and love that only you can give.”
- Drive Slower and in Silence: When you’re in the car and running errands, get in the right lane and drive slower than usual. No, it won’t be easy, but try it anyway. Let other people pass you. Pray for them in their craziness. Turn off the music, news, or talk radio and simply ride in silence. Enjoy the fact that God is with you. Emmanuel means, “God with us.”
- Sit with Scripture: Redeem the last ten minutes of your day by sitting with Scripture. Start by praying, “Lord, this is Your Word. If you have anything to say, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.” Then consider the following simple Bible reading plans courtesy of YouVersion. Advent Adoration (4 Days); Making Room in Advent (4 Days); Finding God in Advent (6 Days). You can find hundreds of other Bible readings plans on the YouVersion Bible App.
Here's the good news. It’s never too late to start again. If the start to the Advent season has been bumpy it doesn’t have to end that way. Start over, but this time don’t make it about your effort, but rather adopt a posture of receptivity and simply receive what God has always been willing to give. Himself. Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
Remember, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Yours for a blessed Advent,