During the past few weeks, I have been duly reminded of the need for the Advent season. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle, lights, tinsel, presents and food that the approaching Christmas holiday brings. And this year, it seems I haven't even had time for that! Kevin and I made our long trek to Michigan for Thanksgiving only to turn around and fly back the next weekend for his grandmother's birthday party this past weekend! (More on that later.) And this weekend, we are heading up to Lake George for a youth retreat. (Picture me hyperventilating into a paper bag.) All that being said, we haven't even had the time to be franticly preparing the house for Christmas, purchasing Christmas gifts, writing Christmas cards, or making travel plans. Life is full, but not in the usual December way.
Though visible preparations for Christmas have gone by the wayside, our inner preparations have begun to blossom. Advent is a time of prayer and expectation; a time in which we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus, to experience the miracle of his coming to earth in a deep way. Here is a prayer* that Kevin and I are offering each night:
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"
So let us prepare our hearts, that we would be more open to receiving the miracle of Jesus' birth into our lives this Christmas.
*Prayer written by Father Henri J.M. Nouwen