There’s a lot of housekeeping this time of year. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we spend a lot of time tidying up for the arrival of loved ones.
But, there’s a different kind of cleaning that is called for this season, for a different kind of loved one. You see, despite the manic gift-shopping and decorating, this is not the Christmas season. This is Advent, and Advent is a season for some spiritual housekeeping.
Its basis goes back to the prophet Isaiah: “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
This passage from Luke recounts John the Baptist preparing the way for the arrival of the Lord — the Advent of Christ — as prophesied by Isaiah. Advent, then, is a time of preparing for Christ’s arrival, both in our celebration of the Nativity and in our waiting for the Second Coming.
But, we must not limit ourselves to celebrating the past and waiting for the future. Advent calls us to prepare our spiritual house for today — to make our paths straight and smooth our rough ways for Christ to live and work in and through us now.
As we buy and wrap gifts for Christmas, Advent calls us to prepare ourselves spiritually for a far greater gift. We are preparing ourselves for, as Paul put it in Colossians 1:27, “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
As we clean and decorate our houses, we are called to clean out and prepare our spirit, to make way for our beloved, our Savior, who lives in and works through us. That is the true meaning of this season, and I hope you all find the time and peace to reflect on Advent, and to prepare for the gifts of the Kingdom.
I close with this prayer, for the First Sunday of Advent, taken from the Revised Common Lectionary:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.