Advent Week Two—The Virtue of Preparation


Reframing the concept of "waiting" during Advent—through the practice of thoughtful preparation.


God loves to wait. He is never anxious, rushed, or impatient. Waiting is essential to the kingdom, life, and character of God.
 
But for many, “waiting” is an irrelevant highway to an otherwise important destination. It’s a helplessly sluggish reality that reduces our quality of life. Our misconceptions lead us away from a life of waiting, and towards instant gratification.
 
The season of Advent disrupts our daily ignorance with a call to wait. On the road to Christ’s birth—even thousands of years prior—people are called to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The practice of preparation lies at the heart of Advent’s invitation to wait.

Practicing Preparation
 
According to Merriam-Webster, preparation is “the action or process of making something ready for use or service, or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty.”
 
The thing you prepare for is not separate from the preparation itself. Your participation in a marathon is intrinsically connected to your preparation for it. Your guests’ experience at your party hinges on your preparation for it. Without preparation, the value for whatever awaits you diminishes.
 
We cannot fully enter into the Christmas story, comprehend the weight of Christ’s birth, or wholeheartedly receive His gift without preparing. We prepare ourselves to approach the manger, we prepare with others to remember God’s promise, and we prepare with our world—which lingers, groans, and gasps for Christ’s arrival.
 
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, ‘Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!’” — Isaiah 40:3-5 (NLT)
 
That ‘someone shouting’ Isaiah describes is John the Baptist. He calls for building highways, filling valleys, and leveling mountains—all for the coming of the Lord. How does this description of preparation compare with our understanding of waiting?
 
This is not the inactive, boring standstill we often think of waiting. This is clamorous, lively, and trailblazing. It’s a “spring cleaning,” “pull out all the stops,” “spare no expenses” kind of preparation. Upon incarnating, Jesus arrives into our barrenness and longing, reverses the high and lowly segments of our world, and brings peace to our brokenness. As we await Jesus’ birth, we are invited to embody these very things—preparing our world for his arrival.
 
“He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” - Luke 1:11-17 (NLT)
 
As John fulfills this prophecy given to his father, Zechariah, we find the keystone of Advent preparation: repentance. Preparation has to do with our hearts. To prepare, we relocate our hearts away from busyness, selfishness, and sin, and into the presence of God. In repentance, we fully receive the birth of Jesus. And we are brought to humility, reconciliation, and acceptance of God’s outlandish grace lying in the manger. Amen.


Reflections

I. Repentance is at the heart of Advent. How are you repenting, turning your heart, and receiving the gift of Jesus in this season?

II. How have you, your family, your community, your city, etc., been waiting for Jesus? Take note of the ways you and your world are desperate for God’s arrival — and bring those things to God as you anticipate Jesus’ birth.


Words—Daniel Sunkari

Additional readings

Advent Week One—Mary Magnifies a History of Faithfulness


For Advent: Exploring the Magnificat and how Mary places her life in the larger story of God's faithfulness.

Advent Week Three—The Person of Joy


Seeking, finding, and understanding the person of joy in the season of Advent.

Advent Week Four—Love Moves In

In Christ’s birth, God demonstrates that love is not merely a matter of sweet words or acts of kindness. Love is moving in.

The Flow of Jonni Cheatwood


A look into the studio and creative process of the internationally renowned painter-sewer.