How many of you have begun your preparations for Christmas?Have you gone out shopping at all for presents? Have you got a Christmas Tree yet? Have you put Lights on the House? Started to listen to Christmas music?
I haven’t done much preparation yet for Christmas just thinking of a few ideas I could get for my parent’s and my brother and maybe some things that I may want to ask from Santa. As you may have seen, I saw Santa recently on Railroad Avenue. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything to tell him that I wanted. There will be other opportunities, and I wonder if Santa has an email?
This time of year is a time of much preparation. We decorate our houses; we buy a Christmas tree and hang it up in our homes. If you get a new tree every year, I’m sure you love the smell of it going up. I’ve begun listening to96.1 the river with all of the Christmas music on that station. In many ways some of us have started the Christmas season, we are already singing carols, decorating, putting our trees up now.
However, today in the Church we begin a new season in the Church. We don’t call it Christmas as the world seems to be celebrating. Instead today we begin Advent. The Church is decorated differently this week, we have the advent wreath set up here nicely right beside me, and some familiar hymns are heard again. Advent for us is a season of preparation, a time that we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, which we will celebrate in about 3 ½ weeks, but Advent also reminds us that the Lord will come again on the clouds of heaven and bring about his salvation.
Christmas will be all over the place over the next month as we take ourselves through this season of Advent. This time of the year is a season of much preparation as I mentioned before. We do so much to prepare for Christmas; Black Friday helps us prepare for Christmas, Cyber Monday helps us to get ready for Christmas.
It is good that we put so much effort and joy into preparing for Christmas. However, Advent invites to prepare for Christmas differently. The readings this weekend speak to us on what our approach to advent should be!
We heard a short reading from the Prophet Jeremiah saying that the Lord will full the promises he made to his people. From David’s shall raise a just shoot. How many of you have had to cut down a tree? You probably know if you leave the stump things can begin to grow on it. Jeremiah here is explaining that from the destroyed Jerusalem will come a new Messiah. We hear this reading because it points forward to what we will celebrate at Christmas the coming of Jesus and his birth.
However, the Gospel takes the readings in a new way and challenges us to prepare in another way during this season of Advent. Jesus predicted the coming destruction on the earth. In one way he is speaking about the impending destruction of the city of Jerusalem, but to he is talking about another event that has yet to happen still to this day. We profess our belief in this event when we pray the Creed. He will come again in glory to judge the living, and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
Our Lord today in the Gospel calls us to be vigilant at all times and pray that we have the strength to stand before the son of Man and to escape the tribulation. In our lives of faith, we usually don’t think about having the strength to do things. Our Lord though in another part of Luke tells us to strive to enter the narrow gate because many will not have the strength. Our Lord tells his apostles to pray and be vigilant so that we have the strength to escape tribulation and face the son of Man.
Advent for us is about two things preparing ourselves for Christmas when we celebrate that Jesus became one of us. At the same time, we should remember that one day our Lord will come to call us from this life and we need to prayerful and vigilant so we can have the strength to enter the narrow gate.
How can we grow in strength during this Advent season? What do we need to do to grow stronger in our faith and prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. First, do we have any time during the day for prayer? Do we spend time reading scripture, trying to listen to theLord who speaks to us in silence? We also need to remember that Jesus gives us the strength to prepare for his coming. Staying close to the sacraments can help us. When is the last time you have been to confession? Advent is an excellent opportunity to avail yourself of this sacrament again. We can try and make mass more often. Maybe take more time to pray the rosary more often, and other devotional prayers.
Christmas is fast approaching, and there will be many things we will do to prepare ourselves to be ready for Christmas, but our Lord challenges us also to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ not only at Christmas but when he comes again to judge the world. May we spend every day to strengthen ourselves to prepare ourselves to stand before the Lord!