Yet for Christians, this is called to be a special time of preparation. On Sunday, we begin the season of Advent, nearly four weeks of preparing for Christmas. The word “advent” originates from a Latin word that means coming. As Christians, we prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus.
So often in our world today, we focus on the many secular parts of preparing for Christmas. We plan for our family celebrations, we buy the latest toys and electronics for our loved ones, we write Christmas cards to friends both far and near. Yet we often don’t seem to have the same focus on preparing for Christ. Even for the faithful, it is hard to remain focused on the spiritual side of Christmas.
This is what Advent invites us to do. We are invited to spend some time preparing our hearts and minds to receive Christ once again in our lives. We are invited to reflect on what Christ means to us. Because the great gift of Christmas for which we prepare is that God came to dwell among us, to share in our joys and pains. And, in Christ, God is forever tied to us; God is forever with us.
When God became a human being in the person of Jesus, the world was forever transformed. In the 1990s, a popular song asked, “What if God was one of us?” Yet we believe that God is one of us; it’s not a question to which we don’t know the answer.
Since God is one of us in Christ Jesus, how does that change our lives, our preparation for Christmas? Since God is one of us, we look to treat all people with dignity and respect, especially those who are most poor and abandoned. Since God is one of us, we speak with him because we know he can relate to and understand our problems and challenges, our joys and celebrations. Since God is one of us, we give thanks that we are united with God, that our human nature is loved and transformed.
So let us spend some time this Advent preparing for Christ to be born again — born in our hearts and families and churches. Let us await him joyfully, with excitement and expectation. Let us recognize the Advent of our God in our daily lives.
The Rev. Jeremy Dixon is a minister of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.