Advent: A Time to Prepare!

by | Nov 25, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Advent begins soon—preparation for the great feast of Christmas. It’s time to anticipate the Savior’s coming. Let’s look at our priorities. What most takes our attention, time, and effort? Good things that lead to God or things that distract us from who we are and where we’re going?  

A well-lived Advent should nurture a desire to watch and wait for the Lord in our lives. 

Before Advent begins, let’s consider how to carve out ten or fifteen extra minutes each day to say, “Lord, I want You to come into my heart and into my family more fully. Help us welcome You in body, mind, and spirit.” When you open your heart to the Lord in that way, God will come. 

Do you remember to thank God? If not, maybe you should pay attention to that during Advent. Is there a major sin in your life? Have you gotten through many other things and put them aside, but not this one area? I encourage you to pay attention to it now.  

Do you know God’s love for you? Do you read the Scriptures? Advent is a wonderful time to begin cultivating a habit. Read John 14-17 to better see God’s love for you, his hope in you, and his desire for you to live with Him forever. God wants to ignite all of that in your heart. He wants to encourage you to receive all that He has for you so that you can get rid of sin and allow Him to occupy the place in your life that will enable you to draw closer to Him. 

Give God ten extra minutes each day and say, “Lord, is there anything You want of me now? I look at my life, my sins, and my faults. I can’t change all of those—but You can.” What would the Lord like us to look at with Him: problematic relationships, unforgiveness, anger, or animosity? Let’s bring these things to God as well as gratitude for the good things He has done for us, which far outweigh the bad. Do we recall the good God has done for us, or do we forget? Do we recall those great moments of grace? Do we cultivate them with gratitude so that God can use us more and we can draw closer to Him and have more peace? God doesn’t want us in turmoil; He wants us in peace. 

This Advent season, look at the Savior who so loves us, He came in the flesh to be like one of us. Look at the one who, through his teaching and presence, and his life, death, and resurrection, became our Savior. He did that not just for a mass of people but for you! He knows your strengths and weaknesses, the desires of your heart, and the dreams that have been shattered. He knows the pain you’ve experienced. He knows the moments of great blessing and happiness you’ve experienced. He knows it all—and He says, “Come to Me.” 

Draw closer to Him this Advent. Give God time every day. Read the Scriptures, ponder what God has done for us, intercede for others, and ask God to help you to overcome sin. Put Him first, and other things will take their rightful place.   

I remember a time during World War II when I was about five. One of my uncles was able to come home for Christmas, which almost never happened. My family members often met at my grandmother’s home to prepare for his arrival. There was a lot of scurrying around. How could we make this time a blessing for him before he had to go back into the horrors of war? 

We all had food stamps because of the war, even me. I was asked to give one of my food stamps so that they could get a little more of something for my uncle. Even though I didn’t fully comprehend, I was glad to contribute. There was suddenly a light in our lives and a moment of respite from the ravages of war. We couldn’t drive much because of the need for rubber in the war zones. There were gasoline shortages. Even little things like rubber bands just weren’t around. That’s a very small image of the sacrifices people made. We knew as a country that the men on the front lines needed to be supported in every way, and we were willing—even children as young as me—to sacrifice something to bless them. Now I ask you: Are you willing to put aside a sin or a fault so that your gift to God will be a gift of less sin? As you welcome Him into your heart and life this Christmas, will your soul be clean, and your heart purified? We need to give up things for that to happen, but it brings great joy when we do. 

I want you to have an infectious joy this Christmas that causes others to ask about its source. Then share with them what God has taught you. Look at your life. What holds you back from deeper intimacy with God? 

As we waited for my uncle to come—never being sure that he would but hoping and getting ready—it stirred up stories among us about what my uncle was like and the things he had done. We recalled our memories of him—sometimes very funny ones—and longed to see him again. We were waiting, watching. 

When the day finally came to meet him at the train station, a quiet settled over the busy household at my grandmother’s house. It was the quiet of anticipation that we were going to see him again. God wants to stir that up in our hearts—we’re going to see Him one day. Are our souls ready? 

Finally, somebody said, “We’d better be going.” We drove to the train station a couple of miles away, got out of the car in the dark, and lined up in silence. My father held me in his arms and my mother held my hand. I sensed their eagerness. 

How eager are we to see the Lord return? What will that day be like when we see Him? Do we believe? Does our faith need to be cultivated? 

I remember standing on the platform when the whistles blew, signifying that the train was rounding the final corner and would soon be in the station. Then he walked out of the train and down the steps. We all stood frozen for a moment, just staring. Then somebody cried, “There he is! There he is!” And we all ran to see him. 

That excitement was for a much-beloved uncle. How much more do we long for Jesus? How attentive are we? How much internal housecleaning is going on in our souls to prepare for his coming? Let’s take time each day to say, “Where am I failing and how can I do better? God give me grace.” After all, this preparation to welcome Him at Christmas also prepares us to welcome Him when the time comes for eternal life. 

Your sister in Christ, 

Sr. Ann Shields, SGL 

The content for this letter is taken from Sr. Ann Shield’s CD, Journey Through Advent: Cycle C. The article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ November 2023 newsletter.

Image credit: © evgavrilov/Adobe stock

About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Sister Ann Shields</a>

Sister Ann Shields

Sr. Ann Shields, SGL, is part of Renewal Ministries’ leadership team and a member of The Servants of God’s Love. She is an internationally noted speaker, the author of numerous books on Catholic spirituality, and the host of the popular daily radio program Food for the Journey. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI awarded Sr. Ann the Benemerenti Medal for service to the Church. The Catholic Library Association also awarded Sr. Ann the Aggiornamento Award, for her outstanding contribution to the renewal of parish and community life.

1 Comment

  1. Brian

    So beautiful. I needed this and feel motivated to give up something that I know is holding me back from growing closer to our Lord and being truly ready to meet Him. Thank you!


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