Prepare! Fear not! Rejoice! Exhortations such as these ring forth each season of Advent. Have you ever paid attention to the ways these calls resound in your own heart and your own life?
Preparation is one of the hallmarks of the Advent season. Homes are being decorated. Gifts are being purchased and wrapped. Cookies and other treats are being baked. Invitations are being sent and tables being set. So many preparations underway, and still a voice cries out, “Prepare!”
God is preparing to send us the greatest of all gifts: his Son. In a few short days, the Word will be made flesh, and make his dwelling among us (cf. Jn 1:14). Jesus became human to reveal God to us in a full and tangible way. Through him we encounter God’s love as he heals our wounds and all that ails us, restores our broken relationships with God and with one another, and initiates the Reign of God. This certainly is reason to rejoice!
This great gift comes with an invitation. Each one of us is invited to give our own lives over to God through a personal, lived relationship with Jesus. God holds nothing back and asks us to do the same. The more fully we entrust ourselves to God, the more profoundly we are transformed to reflect Jesus and empowered by the Spirit to be instruments of God’s love. It’s no wonder the exhortation, “Prepare!” has resounded in my heart and mind throughout this Advent.
This year there have been two primary things I have focused on to prepare for our Savior’s birth. One is to recognize the things in my life that I continue to hold back from God. The other is to be more intentional about the ways I use my gifts and talents to serve God’s people. Each of these has been fruitful, which is a blessing. It paves the road for me to surrender myself more fully to God. But it is also quite challenging. When the challenges have seemed overwhelming, I have found comfort in the call, “Fear not! I am with you.” A fitting reminder as we await the coming of Emmanuel – God with us. Prepare, indeed.