The Christmas lights are starting to go up in our neighborhood and the brightly lit Christmas trees are gleaming through windows as we drive past. I can hear the excitement in my children’s voices as they point out to me another beautifully decorated house. I can already sense their anticipation as they look forward to decorating, visiting relatives, and all of the beloved traditions that happen around Christmas. Just the other day my five-year-old exclaimed, “Why can’t it just be Christmas tomorrow!”
I explained that before we can have Christmas we need to have Advent, so we are prepared and ready. Just like we spend time planning and preparing for a birthday party, even more so we need to prepare for the greatest birthday known to mankind. We decorate, plan gatherings, make food and buy presents, but the greatest preparation to happen during Advent is that of our souls. Advent is a time to prepare our souls so that we are truly ready to welcome and celebrate the Savior at Christmas and again when he calls us home.
We have all experienced times in our lives of having to wait. We wait in traffic, we wait in line, we wait for the birth of a child, we wait for the call from a doctor, we wait to retire and we wait for a prayer to be answered. At times waiting can be a source of anxiety and frustration. I know that my impatience can easily get the best of me. We are often left wondering when the wait will be over. The hours and days of waiting can often feel like they are being wasted. It can feel like our life has been put on hold until the waiting comes to an end.
What I have learned over the years is that in the wait, the silence and the unknown, God is at work. He is at work on our hearts, preparing us for what is to come. Waiting is a time of pruning, being formed and made ready. In the stillness, God is moving. Sometimes it seems he is moving so quietly and slowly that we fail to recognize his voice.
As we are in the darkest days of the year, we take this season of Advent to silence our hearts and make still our busy lives so that the light of Christ can shine brightly in us. This is a time of waiting and during these next weeks, God wants to work in our hearts, so that when Christmas comes we find ourselves truly ready.
The Church gives us this beautiful liturgical season of Advent, so when it concludes we are drawn so close to the infant in the manger. That when we gaze upon the holy child we experience His immense love and unsurpassed peace, that we can’t help but have our lives transformed.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears.”