5 Ways to Prepare This Advent
By: Kenisha Alemao
It’s all about the dream, the dream He had when He created the world.
As we all know, Christmas spirits are running high and are in full swing! Decorations are put in and out of the house, Christmas music is playing on the radio, and everyone is bustling about, trying to check off their Christmas lists, which mainly involves getting gifts for others. But amidst all the running about and the hustle and bustle, we often forget that during this time, it is the season of Advent.
Advent is often overlooked, mainly because we are so busy trying to get everything perfect by Christmas Day. And while forgetting about the four weeks of Advent, we also forget the true meaning of Christmas, where Christ enters the world, God’s only Son being born to save us from our sins. I mean, is Christmas all about getting and giving gifts and presents? Can the meaning be more than Santa Claus, making Christmas all about him? Can it be more than cooking up the perfect storm so that family and friends can come over and enjoy the meal? Can it be more than wishing for materialistic things, when we know we only get temporary satisfaction from them?
That is why, for Advent, we must be prepared, be ready. Not be prepared by checking our Christmas to-do lists rather, prepare for Our Saviour’s birth. But what does that mean? How do we “prepare the way” for the Lord? As said in Matthew, 24: 37, be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” We can prepare in 5 different ways:
1. Praise and thank the Lord. Thank the Lord for all of your blessings and all of your sufferings. I know, sufferings? The way I put it, we suffer because God is putting us to the test. He knows our capacity to handle things, and knows we are worthy of Him. It is like He tested Abraham, by telling him to kill his son, Isaac. Abraham was heartbroken, but when the Lord saw Abraham would do anything for Him, He stopped Abraham and Abraham was indeed very happy. Thank the Lord for everything, it will make you appreciate the world more than you did before. You may even notice things that you’ve never seen in your everyday life, and make you look at the world with more perspective.
2. Ask the Lord to be with you and guide you throughout your faith journey. This helps because eventually, it will help you to realize your vocation and the call from God. It also gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, where we have strength to face our spiritual battles. For example, there may be others who oppose the Christian faith. You could have the power to clear any misunderstandings the person may have about the Church, or about God. Another example, is that it makes more confident in our choices of chastity, purity and being pro-life, which most of the world is opposed to.
3. Confession always helps. It does not have to be the Year of Mercy to go and ask forgiveness for your sins. I always find that confessing sins that may claw at your heart and pry at your conscience gives you a huge relief after. It’s like a stone weight has been lifted from your shoulders, making you get up after you fall, as we are always given that chance. Remember God always forgives and loves you.
4. Read the Scriptures, read the Good News. The best book in the world is the Bible, the book with the most translations and most photocopies. It gives you advice when you are looking for it, wisdom you cannot find anywhere else, prayers and praises to our Lord God, answers to questions you may have about the faith, and stories about people like us who struggle through their faith and how God helped them. I find it is always the go-to book. Sometimes, God may want to tell you something through the Bible. All you have to do is say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”, or “God, if you are trying to tell me something, speak to me with Your Word”. I guarantee, there will be a passage that could be the answer to your prayers without you even knowing it.
5. Always have perspective. This is the one I struggle the most with. I always judge people for their actions or words. What I often don’t realize is that all of these people are struggling through life like I am. I know some of them have it harder than me, and are in need of prayers. There is so much happening in our world today, people have reasons behind their decisions, which in their opinion, is right. Wars, persecution of believers for their faith, assaults, attacks, porn, loneliness, medical diseases, poverty, abuse, terrorism, racism, sexism, injustice for the innocent, climate change and global warming. The people around us may be victims of these things, and we may not even know it. That is why God always calls us to forgive, and in turn, we must pray for them. Remember, we all have our own opinions, we think we know what is right and what is wrong, but the ultimate judge is God. Prayer is the best gift we can give a person.
Preparing for the Lord, is like preparing for our deaths to go to heaven. It may sound extreme, but Jesus can come down to Earth any time and we have to be ready. With these 5 ways, we are called to a deeper relationship with God. Remember Jesus is also our friend and brother, we can lean upon Him for any struggles we are going through. He always listens, and is waiting to enter into our lives. He is waiting for us to call Him in, He is knocking on our heart and asking if He can lift the burden in our lives, and be there with us.
Before the Original Sin, God had a dream for the world. He dreamed it would live in perfect harmony, praising Him and praying to Him, living with joy and peace in our hearts. So why not? It may be a small difference in the world, but I know it will be a big difference in our lives. And who knows? Leading by example for others is what God calls us to do. I ask you to give it a try. Surrender everything that is leading you away from God and truly prepare the way for Christ the King. It will totally help you go deeper into faith that you may never have experienced before. It may even change you, making you more accepting and respecting others’ opinions about the faith.
Still worrying about Christmas shopping? The gifts you were planning on giving? I’m not saying to give it up entirely. Give gifts that you think may be meaningful to others. Volunteering in food banks, retirement homes, and homeless shelters can also be a gift to the ones in need of help. The Christmas decorating and lists can always wait, but preparing for the Lord with your families comes first. Give time to Christ during the month of Christmas. A King entered into the world, with a promise of our salvation from all our sins, unconditional love from our Father up above, and a hope for our world today.