What Can Advent Mean for Me?
Each year we are offered this season of Advent. The prayers are often about the “coming” of Jesus and the culture around us clearly points to Christmas. So, Advent can seem like a time of remembering the coming of Jesus at Christmas, and become a time of Christmas preparation.
A deeper look can allow Advent to be about preparing my heart for Jesus to come to me more intimately during these four weeks. The exploration – the activity and the work of Advent – can be about discovering where I need Jesus to come, in my life. This is a process of examining the places in my heart where Jesus is missing, where his style, his way and his heart are not like mine. It is an opportunity to feel the absence, to feel the emptiness, or perhaps the shallowness of certain places in my heart. The beginning of the Advent experience is to allow myself to enter into an experience of missing something and of longing for something to replace it.
We don’t want to skip over this step. To pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” without knowing what I’m asking for will ultimately not be the best way to make that prayer. One way to help ourselves be more concrete and specific, we can journal our preparations. For example, we can put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to ask ourselves key questions: What is feeling “empty” in me? Where do I feel I’ve not let Jesus into my heart? In what areas might I have walled him out? Into what pain, loneliness, fear or anger have I not invited him?
When I start naming my responses, I can begin to feel a longing. I can let myself sense that I’m not going to be happy if I continue to live with resentment or sadness or any kind of darkness. I can imagine how much happier I’d be if I let myself express a desire to welcome Jesus into those spaces where I need him, where I need healing, where I need renewal, where I need his comfort and peace.
As I write this all out, during the early weeks of Advent, and hear the Isaiah’s readings and their promises, I will begin to say “Come, Lord Jesus” in a new way – with genuine hope and expectation, with deep desire, with feeling and energy.
When our desire meets God’s desire for us, something we call “grace” happens. The gift is given where we are most receptive to receive it.
Our desire for Jesus to fill us will make Advent a season that truly is about the Incarnation – the coming of Jesus, in the fleshy reality of our day to day life. And, it will get us to the manger and the reality of the fact that the one who came then, is here to come again – into the same poverty and with the same welcome with which Mary and Joseph received him with trust and hope.
“Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"