Advent Week Two: How to Prepare your Heart for Christmas
This week of Advent we focus on preparation. This is a great time to take a step back and consider how and why we prepare. As my husband and I await the arrival of our first child, we spend a lot of time preparing for the baby. We go to appointments, make sure I eat healthily and read about what’s to come.
This is very similar to Advent when we all await the coming of a child—our King. Like the nine months of pregnancy, we all have a set amount of time to prepare for the greatest gift that we will ever receive. We journey together towards Bethlehem together following the star and waiting in Hope for His arrival.
Preparing to celebrate Christmas Day itself takes time. There’s gift-buying, Christmas Card writing, cookie-making, decorating, and the list goes on. While we prepare for family gatherings we can also be preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus.
Advent gives us a special opportunity to take time to rest, focus on our relationships with Jesus and with those around us. We can make time for Christ even during this busy time of year.
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
There are many ways to make room for Jesus during Advent. They can be small or big. First, let God guide you in prayer and discern what He is calling you to do. This doesn’t need to add more stress to your busy life but should help you peel away anything unnecessary this season. Then you can have more room for the things that benefit your soul.
Whether it’s changing your perspective or just starting your day with prayer. Here are a few ideas:
- Focus on daily prayer. Through prayer, you can discover where God is asking you to make room for Him in your life. It could mean letting some things go or adding new practices to grow in your faith.
- Visit the sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a time to rekindle your relationship with Christ, so it’s always nice to start with a blank slate.
- Start an Advent devotion. There are many available online or in books. Even though this is the second week, it’s never too late to start.
- Spend more time in silence. This time of year is filled with bright lights, giant inflatable lawn creatures, and lots of people out and about. You can cultivate a time and space for silence in your life. Maybe you wake up an extra ten minutes to read the Bible without distraction.
- Give of your time and talents. There are many ways to help like like donating a baked good to your parish bake sale or taking time to serve at your local soup kitchen. If there’s an organization that you’ve been meaning to help, it’s likely that they could use extra hands around the holidays.
- Participate in your parish giving. Does your parish have an annual sock drive or a Christmas tree where you can out pick tags for gifts to give to a family in need, or something similar?
- You can also donate in a monetary way. You can spend less on gifts and put that money towards worthy causes.
- Put away your smartphone and give your family members the gift of your time. Take part in things they are interested in doing.
- Have the Advent wreath or Jesse Tree take prominence of place in your home.
- Play Advent music as you set out decorations, wrap gifts or prepare your home.
- Say a prayer together before starting an annual Christmas tradition or family gathering.
- Let go of any traditions that add more stress. Focus more on the traditions that do bring joy and life to you.
The Christ-Child at the Center
This is a great time of year to focus more on others in need. Just as God gave us the greatest gift in sending His only son, we can make a gift of ourselves to serve others.
The most important thing to do as you prepare is to focus on love. As you check things off your to-do list, you can contemplate the Christmas miracle and let it inspire you to love God and the people around you more.
Bethany Swanson studied Humanities and Catholic Culture at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She’s originally from Oregon and is now enjoying the beaches and warm weather of California with her husband William. She shares her reflections on newlywed life and the faith on her blog at http://www.strengthenmyheart.com/