CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
Our hearts and hands need Advent in order to prepare for the coming of Jesus
"Prepare the way. A Saviour is coming. Prepare the way, . . ." I sing as I clean and decorate the house and do my Christmas shopping. The words are the opening lines of a carol our choir will sing for Christmas Eve Mass.
December for most of us becomes a bustle of busyness. Frustrated, I realize my plans once more exceed the time I have to pull together my bright ideas, plus traditional expectations.
The lighting of another candle on the Advent wreath becomes a further reminder that Jesus and Christmas are coming. Ready or not, here they come.
I practise another tune singing in melody with a little memorized alto thrown in. For another choir number, we chant in soft but urgent voices, "Jesus is coming."
The song swells to a crescendo as Christmas and the end of the song draw near. "Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming," becomes louder and more insistent. The last notes of the arrangement are staccato and forte. "Prepare!" we almost shout in four-part harmony.
During the first two weeks of Advent, Scripture readings remind us of the prophecy of end times and the second coming of Christ. His coming again is the second meaning of the words, "Jesus is coming." For that great event also, we need to get ready.
That is what I need to do - prepare my head and my heart for what Christmas is all about. When I do that, I am operating with peace, love, joy and hope in my heart and mind.
Plans of perfection must be put aside. A few jobs that are unrealistic or too demanding need to be tabled for another year. Priorities, as well as the dinner table, need to be set.
Even if my house is far from perfect, Christmas will still come. All of our family will be home and we will enjoy being together. We will read the Christmas story and share love and gifts and interaction.
At St. Anne's on Christmas Eve, I will sing the customary Christmas carols and the new compositions I also love. We will offer a prayer of thanksgiving and we will know we are loved and blessed by God who sent his Son.
As I reset the agenda, God's grace is slowly spreading in my heart. My thoughts and prayers go out to others for whom Christmas may not seem that simple or blessed.
I pray that my actions will reflect God's love for others. If the Second Coming of Jesus happened tomorrow, what would be most important in my getting-ready-for-Christmas list? How shall I prepare?