This Advent Season

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By Pat Hammond

During this Advent season, how will you prepare for the arrival of Jesus on Christmas Day? What can you do to prepare yourself to welcome Christ into the world, into our homes, and into our lives? How will you celebrate this Advent season?

The word “advent” means “coming” or “arrival” and so during this season of Advent we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and we watch with expectant hope for his coming again. The preparation we go through in the church to get ready to prepare for Christmas, to prepare to welcome the coming of Jesus into our world is quite different from most of what we do to “get ready for Christmas.” 

 

I have some ideas for us. Let’s begin by first attending worship each of the Sundays in Advent. Each Sunday Scripture will lead us closer to Christ. Each Sunday we light a candle in the Advent wreath to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world shining in our lives and shining among us now. With each candle we are encouraged to look outward in love and forward in hope. Come to worship. Sing. Pray. Listen. Respond.

Another way to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ arrival is to pray. If you do not pray regularly, start small, maybe five minutes each day at some convenient time. If you already pray regularly consider spending Advent trying a new way of praying. If you want an idea about a new way of praying, ask a friend how they pray or talk with me and I can give you a few suggestions. Prayer is where we go to meet God.

Or you might want to take up a practice of reading scripture. You might like to go slowly through the stories and songs of Jesus’ birth and infancy from the first two chapters of Luke and Matthew. Or you might like to read through the entire book of Isaiah which has so many passages that foreshadow the life and work of Jesus. Fill your heart and mind with Scripture’s stories and let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts.

Or you might choose to take up some form of service to your neighbors during this season; the Gospels portray Mary and Joseph as strangers in Bethlehem, with no place to stay, so maybe volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen would be a way to prepare for Jesus, or organizing a food drive or finding a way to help a a member of this church. Visit someone who can’t get out and offer to drive them to church. This is the season of Advent! Jesus is coming, whether we prepare or not. Yet preparing for Advent can make the visit all the richer.  Advent blessings! Pastor Pat

Pat is the Associate Pastor for Congregational Care at First Presbyterian Church of Sioux Falls. She can be reached at pathammond@fpcsiouxfalls.org.