“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.” (Mk. 1:2)
If you do much driving, chances are you’ve come across a vehicle displaying a brightly colored Wide Load sign. That sign clearly alerts drivers to an expectation and the preparation that comes with it. It reminds us to be alert, cautious and expect to adjust to something that is a different size. In essence, that sign is the messenger. When it comes to living out our discipleship, the message and the path might not be quite so noticeable – but the season of Advent helps make things clear.
The Advent message is all about patient waiting and preparation. It’s hard to listen, watch, wait and prepare when we drive ourselves silly with shopping, decorating, celebrating and chaos! When we’re caught in all the hoopla, we miss the true message of it all, which is peace. Peace is the fruit of stillness, prayer and patient waiting. When we get the message and feel his peace, we are aware of Christ at work in our life.
God promised peace but we have to want it, seek it and work for it. We can’t get it on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or by waiting in line with a 40 percent off coupon. Peace is the gift of God’s presence in our day. If we offer God our day and speak with him often throughout it, as if consulting a personal adviser, he will provide those moments of great exhale as things fall into place. Prayerful stillness won’t make things go haywire. God can handle the details; the shopping, the cleaning, the schedules. He’s bigger than our to-do list, he’s a master entertainer and he is rich beyond measure. His message is, trust me and let me bring you peace.
Pray every day: Just 20 minutes of prayer each day of Advent equals nearly an entire eight-hour work day. If you’re thinking you don’t have time to be still and prepare, or that Advent would be much better in March when you weren’t so busy, then ask yourself this question. What leads you closer to Christ; the perfect gift and cookie plate or a heart filled with the peace of Christ?
Study the faith: Read each of the Advent Sunday Gospels; then read the Christmas Gospel so you know what you are preparing and waiting for.
Engage in parish life: Make a commitment to attend at least one Advent activity at your parish. Reach out to a friend and invite him or her along so they, too, can take some time to prepare.
Serve others’ needs: Be the compassionate hands and feet of Christ this Advent. Give the precious gift of time by sending a card or stopping in to share a cup of tea and some prayer time with someone who might be lonely, lost or hurting.