By BECKY SIEWERS
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
Now, maybe more than before, we need to give and receive the gifts of comfort and joy. As we enter the great season of wonder, awe and amazement, Advent prepares us to embrace this earth-shaking reality – no matter what else might be going on in the world. God’s generous love can come to life through our actions and dwell in us. When traveled well, the Advent road becomes a pilgrimage toward the same manger where Jesus enters our lives.
For thousands of years, the Hebrews waited for a messiah. We often spend our lives now waiting for a distant heaven in the hereafter. But love is a now thing! The love of Christ is within us and around us, always and everywhere, ready to fill our lives the moment we are open to it. “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).
Advent calls us to live with eyes wide open, so we won’t sleep through our own life while waiting for tomorrow. Live, love and laugh with a sense of urgency. Advent challenges us to change from a merit-based mindset to one that is love-based. Jesus comes into each of our lives – not because we deserve it, but because that’s what his love does for us. We, then, need to feed the hungry; comfort the sick; shelter the homeless; and welcome the stranger. Not because they deserve it, but because that’s what loves does.
Such is the Advent challenge to prepare for Christ and make ready for him within us: to prepare for God with all our hearts and our minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves; all our neighbors, even those who hurt, disappoint or make you feel uncomfortable. Christ tells us it doesn’t matter how many prayers we say; it matters more how many lives we touch. Advent calls us to prepare for a life that touches others’ souls in some way.
Cultivating, planting, nurturing and harvesting love is a people thing. It is up to us, personally and individually. As we prepare in our hearts to welcome Christ, we must realize there is no one but us who can do the work. Advent Prayer: Let me be your hands, Lord, Let me be your heart, Lord, Let me be your healing, Lord.
Love may be patient and kind, but it can also be a lot of work. Sometimes love is too big for a single human heart to carry alone. But we don’t have to do it alone; actually, we are not expected to. As we travel toward the birth of Christ in our Advent spiritual journey, we have our Savior to lean on; a Savior who gives us the strength from his own heart to expand ours. He is there to comfort and strengthen us when our cup runs empty.
Advent calls us to look beyond doubt with childlike eyes because anything is possible. The only limits to God’s love are the ones we place on ourselves to believe.
The greatest gift we can give to one another is the belief that his or her life has meaning. We feel valued when others recognize that our lives have a mission. We are alive and protected because we know we matter to God.
How do we let others know that they matter? Choose an action during Advent that could make a difference in someone’s life. Let us thank God for this Advent time together. Guide us with your light, God, and help us to spread your light and love each day. Let us give comfort and joy to all who God puts in our lives. I hope you find more hidden treasures of God’s love today, every day and for the rest of your life.