Didn’t we JUST HAVE Advent? It seems that way, doesn’t it? Time has a way of sneaking up on us while simultaneously going the speed of a freight train. Suddenly we are hurriedly making Christmas list, scribbling out Christmas cards, and getting out the recipe books. Party planning, Christmas decorating, and the chaos of the season begins. There seems to be no time for enjoying the season until the gifts are opened, the mess is cleaned, and the bustling noise of people fades away. It is in that silence we realized we missed it. We missed another advent of waiting expectedly. We missed another advent of being able to anticipate the coming of Christ in our lives. We missed another advent all while shopping, cooking, planning, partying, and decorating.
The Holy Spirit desires to do something special in our life during Advent. Here are just a few tips to make sure you start Advent off right so you can end it right.
1.) Unplug for two hours a day – no electronic devices, read, pray. It may sound like a long time to be without the ringing of the cellphone or the noise of the TV, but it’s really not that long when you focus on spending that time with God. Imagine telling someone that spending two hours alone with you and your spouse is “too long”. We would never dream of telling someone we are “too busy” to spend two hours with our children or our spouse. Why do we think we can treat humans better than we treat God?
2.) With each gift you buy, thank God for a specific gift He has given you. It’s a simple suggestion, but it helps to refocus on what you have been given while you are looking toward blessing someone else. Try saying a small prayer for the person you are purchasing the gift for while you are selecting and wrapping it. A simple prayer thanking God for bringing that person in your life and the blessing they have been will change the way you see gift wrapping.
3.) When you purchase groceries or cook for meals and gatherings, pray for those who do not have food and for the poor. Thank God for providing you with food. We get so chaotic and stressed about cooking the large family meals that we forget there are those without a family table to put their feet under or a plate of overindulgent calories to eat.
4.) As you put your Christmas decorations up, choose one specific part of Christmas (the animals at the manger, the shepherds, etc) and talk to your children about that specific part as you put decorations up. When you change decorations, change specific topics. If you don’t have children or put decorations up alone, pray and thank God for that specific topic and meditate on what God is speaking to you through that specific part.
5.) Make a list of what you want God to strengthen in your faith life. (more prayer, more reading of the Bible, attending confession more, attending Mass more, more belief in the Real Presence, etc.) and then choose one item on your list daily to pray that God help you strengthen during the holidays and throughout the upcoming year. (Even if you pray for the same thing more than one day, that’s fine)
This truly is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most stressful for many. May we take some time, utilize some simple steps and suggestions, to ensure Christ is not lost in all the hustle and bustle. After all, it’s his birthday we prepare to celebrate and it’s his coming again we await.