“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”
Advent has arrived again and is our yearly time to prepare for the coming of God as Emmanuel—God with us. The name Advent derives from the Latin word for ‘coming,’ and is a time of preparation, waiting and expectation of God’s coming into the world in Jesus.
In this first week of the Advent season before the anxiety of the season starts to put down roots in your spirit, I invite you to think about what practices you do or could do as a gift to yourself as we live Advent into Christmas this year. Below are four suggestions of practices that may help us journey through this Advent season with less stress and more grace.
Use a daily Advent devotional book or Advent calendar. On our church website (sunprairieumc.org), we have links to the Upper Room devotional book and a daily devotional resource call D365. I invite you to try those during Advent, or pick up an Upper Room devotional book at church. Or, you may find a daily reading resource that works for you. Daily Scripture and devotional reading during Advent will help center us in this season of preparation and waiting.
Offer yourself reminders to pray during this season. Perhaps it is an intentional time of morning or evening prayer that will help start and end your day centered in God’s presence. Another form of prayer can be finding markers and reminders each day to call us to prayerful thoughts, such as meals, stopping at a red light, each time you turn on your Christmas tree lights each day, or when you hear a particular Christmas song.
Give up complaining. At times, we may ‘give up’ something for the season of Lent, but the same concept can be used as a discipline during Advent. Whether it’s the crowds or commercialism of Christmas or politics or the frantic pre-Christmas pressures we feel, try not to complain, but commit yourself to pray for whatever it is you would complain about.
Move. With all the extra stress, strain and eating of the season, do something every day to move your body. It might be a walk outside if the weather cooperates or going to the gym, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or any number of other ways to add movement to our day.
May we move through this Advent season intentionally looking for ways to prepare our hearts, minds and spirits for the coming of the Christ child as Emmanuel.