The purpose of Advent is to prepare for the coming of the Lord, but this preparation and anticipation is a two edged sword. In one way it is the preparation for the Christmas season, which is a reminder of that first nativity and a reminder of Israel’s long waiting of their Messiah. It is a meditation on that history of the Old Testament.
The other side of Advent focuses on that next coming of Christ at the end of time, and at the final judgment. This season looks back towards the past, and also towards the future. In preparing for Christmas in this Advent season then, there are two approaches. One is to look at the readings of the Masses that are part of this season and to listen to the prophets longing for that Messiah. It is to look at what it was those ancient people longed for and how this infant Christ fulfilled those prophesies. It is the meditation on the infancy narratives. Much of Advent is a commemoration of a time in history, and to learn some of the lessons contained in those narratives.
The second side of Advent peers into the future when Christ will come again. For that it is listening to those readings that emphasize be watchful and to be ready for that second coming. The preparations of the festive events of this “Holiday Season”, though do take some specific preparations. For those preparing the dinners, there is the preparation that goes into putting on a festive meal. There is the decking the halls with holly, picking the tree, selecting the gifts, baking the treats; and everything else that is so much part of these seasons.
The point then is that these preparations are not meditative or contemplative but are concrete physically demanding tasks that are needed to prepare for a festive season. They do indeed serve an important part of Christmas, they emphasize the importance of a most joyous event and they emphasize preparation. But if all they prepare for is a meal or party, that preparation misses the point. The preparation is for the entry of God into this world, which is the focus of Advent and Christmas. The point of this discussion? Along with the meditative, contemplative side of Advent there is another way to bring meaning to these seasons. Preparation.
That other way, preparation, is to in some way make Jesus the Christ visible to this world during these seasons. How that is accomplished is up to the individual.
Determining what might be a person’s uniquely individual way of making Christ known during the seasons certainly can take some work. At this time of year there are all sorts of folks that are requesting some Christian compassion. Perhaps this might be a good time, if able, not to ignore their requests. Giving financially though is only one form of making Christ known in this world.
During this season there are all sorts of folks looking for someone to lend a hand in labor, yet again many people indeed do lead hectic lives. There are those who have talents in the Arts who have the ability to deliver Christ in a uniquely beautiful way, but again that’s not everyone. This is something as simple as installing a nativity crèche, or complementing someone who took the trouble to do so.
There are so many varied ways each person can bring some aspect of Christ into this world, that both suits their abilities and personality. Here is that “parable of talents” to be interpreted, to discover ones individual talents. The preparation of Advent involves finding that way. Help make Jesus Christ visible in this contemporary world. Making Christ viable n this modern world is definitely a worthy pursuit during this season of preparation known as ADVENT.