"Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God." (2 Peter 3:11)
I am a pro when it comes to planning. I love my calendars, schedules, and knowing just where I need to be at any given moment. I revel in highlighters, sticky notes, and the prospect of getting to prepare in advance for something. So, needless to say, Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. I love preparing for Christmas and getting everything ready to go. But, too often, I forget the most important parts of preparation when it comes to this liturgical season.
Joseph and I have most of our Christmas shopping done. We have a rough sketch of what our schedule will look like over the holiday season with family get-togethers. We've chatted about traditions as a newly married couple. It's easy to stop there, to think "We're done! We're ready for Christmas!" But then I remember that Advent hasn't even started yet.
Even though we've started packing everything away to get ready for our move to the new house, I didn't pack away the Advent candles. We've lined them up on our mantel, weaving pine branches (that I may have found in our parking lot at our apartment) through the candle sticks. We plan for where we'll put the Christmas tree in our new home. But most importantly, this year, we're taking special care to dive into this Advent season with our hearts wide open to God's words of salvation and the hope that comes with this liturgical season.
Preparing for Advent always reminds me of the way I watched my mom prepare for each of my siblings to be born. She cleaned, planned, packed, and decorated. We lugged huge totes of baby clothes up from the storage of the basement and washed them all, folding each piece carefully and putting it into the baby's dresser. She set up the crib, and packed her bag for the hospital. Even when I was too little to understand everything that was going on, or grasp how much life was going to change, I knew something big was coming.
We're called to that same level of preparation for a baby who is coming soon. The baby who was born in a dirty manger all of those years ago, and who is asking to be born into our hearts this Advent and Christmas season.
We'll never be truly ready for Advent. We'll smile to each other and say "This. This is the Advent where I will be on top of things". But it will be easy to get sucked into the material spirit of Christmas that our culture celebrates. One walk through the Target dollar section and I'm a goner.
But this year, let's prepare. Let's trace the love story of Christ through the Old Testament. Let's do some spiritual nesting, confessing, and cleaning out the clutter that's taken up space in our souls for way too long. Let's foster a spirit of preparation in our homes and in our hearts as we get ready for the coming of a baby who will change everything, if we only welcome Him in.