Christmas programs at church, band concerts at school, work holiday parties. It’s the season of year that fills our calendars. One event I look forward to each year is the mid-week Advent service at my church using Holden Evening Prayer. We’ve done it for years and it brings peace to the heart, calmness to the soul and joy to those around.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season, we forget to pause to reflect, ponder and prepare our hearts for the arrival of the baby Jesus.
Reflect on the blessings God has given you.
Maybe this past year has been a challenge. Remember God has plans for us. We don’t always know them or agree with them. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). We must trust the Lord.
Take some time to stop and ponder. What did Mary feel? How about the shepherds or the animals? I’m sure the animals knew something special was about to happen as animals seem to have a keen sense of feeling. In high school, I had a Great Dane, Lady, who seemed to know what I was feeling. I probably felt a little like Mary when I had my son. I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew he was a gift from God.
The wise men following the star in the dark, listening to God to direct their paths didn’t know what to expect. But they didn’t question, they went. Even Mary pondered as Luke tells us in 2:19, “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
Prepare our hearts. There are many ways to prepare our hearts: with a devotional, by spending time with your loved ones, by enjoying quiet time, by listening to Christmas music. I prepare by attending the Holden Evening Prayer service at church. This year, I get to experience it at home as well. My son transposed the music for trumpet and he’s using it to practice his lessons. I’m glad to know he’s moved by it too.
As we continue this third week of Advent, how do you prepare?
Gwen Edwards is serving a second term on the Women of the ELCA executive board and lives in Bellevue, Nebraska. She attends Lord of Love Lutheran Church in Omaha.