Three ways to embrace Advent

Once again Advent has arrived and everyone seems to be in the busiest times of their lives. Many are doing last minute shopping, and getting any final decorations hung before the season is over. But, where is God in the midst of this and is this really what Advent is about? Advent is a time of preparing for the birth of Jesus and for His second coming at the end of times. Instead of being caught up in the business of the world, the Christian should focus on what final preparations can be made for Jesus. The question now becomes how do we allow God to enter into our hearts more in this time of Advent? There are three actions that will allow Christ to make His presence more known in our life. They are: 
  • Daily examination of your day
  • Frequent confession
  • Frequent acts of service 
Fulton Sheen in his book, Peace of Soul says: 
The truth is that, in each heart, there is a secret garden which God made uniquely for Himself. That garden is locked like a safety-deposit vault: it has two keys. God has one key; hence the soul cannot let in anyone else but God. The human heart has the other key; hence not even God can get in without man’s consent….God is always at that Garden Gate with His key. We pretend to look for our key, to have mislaid it, to have given up the search; but all the while it is in our hand, if we would only see it.
These three actions will help us discover the key in our hand and thus, allow God into the garden of our heart. 
            A daily examine of conscience is crucial, for you are able to reflect on what parts of your day was God glorified and what parts was He not glorified. Think about when Jesus called Simon and Andrew to follow Him. Jesus said, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1:16-20).  And then they immediately dropped their nets and followed Jesus. The interesting thing is that they did not hesitate at all even though Jesus did not say more than one sentence to them! Simon and Andrew are fantastic examples of how to say yes to Jesus. To say yes, we must drop our “nets” and follow Him immediately. At the end of the day we need to examine ourselves and discern if we are holding onto our “nets” or if we have let them down to give it all up and glorify God in everything.
             Going to confession frequently is one of the best ways to clear a path for Jesus to enter into our hearts more. Through our sin, we deny God access to all of us and as a result we no longer know who we are or to whom we belong to. Frequently going back to Mercy, through confession, is a humble act that results in a clean soul. With a clean soul, we are able to draw closer to Jesus then we ever thought we could. If there is trash in front of the garden gate, referring back to Sheen’s example, we no longer can open up the gate and allow God in. Confession gets rid of the trash, and as a result, the door can now be swung open and we can embrace Jesus. 
            Finally, is acts of service. If we are to be true images of Christ, we must love as He loved. A practical way is doing acts of service, no matter how big or small. If the act done comes from a place of love, then God will perfect it. Doing loving acts requires us to embrace mercy and start to see others as they truly are, sons and daughters of a King. Just as Jesus came to serve and not be served (Mark 10:45), we too should follow this example. 
            Advent is a time waiting for Christ’s birth, but also our death and second coming. With this in mind, we need to allow Jesus to enter into our hearts so that our life can be transformed. These three steps will allow us to recognize the key in our hand and let Jesus in, so that we can receive Him more. Let us live this Advent and the rest of our lives preparing for the coming of our King by examining our day, going to confession frequently, and loving as He loved through acts of service. 
 
God bless, 
 Seth Conrad