Advent marks the beginning of a period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ, our Savior, at Christmas. Scripture advises us most urgently to make ourselves ready, to be on the alert, to turn aside from our sinful ways, and give more time to God in our lives. The prophet Isaiah tells us, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord,” “We must not live lives of darkness and of sin”, St Paul admonishes his listeners; but let us put on the armor of God’s grace, and appear in the light, meaning that our consciences should have nothing to hide at any time, but rather be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit directing them. “Be vigilant, stay awake,” the gospel warns. At any moment you may be called upon to make an eternal choice. Once again, I say choose wisely. As the Gospel entreats us, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Just how do we do this and what are we supposed to do? It is not a simple task, but it is not difficult either. We need to undertake a spiritual “house-cleaning”. Make room in our hearts, minds and souls so that we can welcome and receive God fully.
The fastest way to get your house cleaned is to say “Company is coming!!” We rush to action to prepare for the arrival of our unexpected guest. We like to put our best foot forward. We clean our house from top to bottom making sure that everything is spic and span, and in order. We get rid of all the junk and clutter so that we can welcome the guest into our home with no worries. This image also works when it comes to our preparations for the coming of the Christ-child. We need to clean up our hearts and souls to make room for God.
We are flawed and broken; our humanity makes us far from perfect. We need to remind ourselves of this fact and do our best. We need to clean out the “crap” and clutter that prevents us from truly welcoming the Lord. We do not need to perform an extreme make-over to hide the flaws and brokenness. The coming guest already knows that we are. We do need to clear out the clutter and make room for the guest’s arrival.
Advent is a time for listening. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,” the prophet tells us, “so that he may teach us his ways, and that we may walk in his paths.” We need to be mindful of the condition of our world and time. Advent affords us the time to do this; to open our hearts, minds and souls for the coming of the Christ. Is your spiritual “house” in order? Are you prepared to greet the long expected guest?
An Advent Prayer
Almighty God, at this time of Advent, renew us with Joy as we await Christ’s coming.
Be our guide and counsel on the road to bringing about Peace in this world.
Assuage our fear of those who are different from ourselves. Help us to show Love and compassion to all of your children.
Help us to remain awake and vigilant, to be ready to greet the Son of Man.
Increase our faith, strength and courage to do your will.
Grant us Hope for a better future.
We ask this though our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Messiah that we await.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.