Advent Reflection Series #5

Are you good at preparing?

Most of the time, yes. If I have a checklist to go through and enough time to prepare, then yes. Weirdly enough, I don’t feel like I have prepared enough for the baby, though. There are checklists out there, and I have most of the stuff on the checklists done or bought, but somehow it all feels inadequate. I never felt like I had enough time, because I still feel like I wasted time during the first trimester when all I wanted to do was sleep.

And who is totally prepared for their first child?

But anyway, I suppose the real question is… “are you good at preparing for Jesus to arrive on Christmas?”

Earlier this month, I went to a penance service. Think of it as a spiritual communal shower—everyone’s getting their sins washed away at the same time. Penance services are nice, but as with every time I go to confession, I never feel as though I have said everything that’s on my heart or use the right words or appear that I am sorrowful. Truthfully, if I thought very deeply about it, I would never stop crying at church or during confession or when I think about the lives of Jesus and the saints. But I don’t cry in public or in front of those I don’t know well, so none of that sorrow would show in the confessional. I suppose it’s OK as long as Jesus knows I am sorry. So penance services are a way of preparing for Christmas, but I don’t know if I’m any “good” at them.

Preparing for Jesus isn’t about the presents or the meals or the get-togethers. It’s about keeping your soul free of stain so you can welcome the infant in the manger with a pure heart. I typically don’t do much preparation for Christmas beyond buying the gifts and maybe cooking a side dish for someone’s party. I hate for Christmas to be stressful when it is supposed to be a time of joy and peace. So we could prepare by enjoying some peaceful time—and actually making that peaceful time, because it is unlikely to just appear.