On Nov 27 this year we begin the season of Advent. Advent is the period at the beginning of the Liturgical Year preparing the faithful for the coming of the Baby Jesus at Christmas. It is a time of intense spiritual preparation, both for the birth of Christ at Christmas and for His glorious Second Coming, at the end of time, and for the coming of Christ into our own hearts and lives in a fresh, joyful and intimate reunion with Him.
I have always liked the Scripture verses in Isaiah 40 about the voice calling out in the desert “prepare the way of the Lord”. The passage continues: “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” And then the glory of the Lord will be seen and all the world will see the salvation of our God. For me, this Scripture passage leads me into deep reflection … a great preparation and way of putting my life in order for Christmas!
What are the valleys in my life? These are the areas in my life that are lacking in something or in which I need to exert more discipline and effort to practice my faith. For instance, my prayer time needs strengthening, my health needs more careful attention to diet and exercise and sleep, and with so many pressing business, social and BCBP activities I need to watch my stress levels. Then I need to check out the valleys of my love for God and neighbor/others (in what ways is my love lacking and how can I intensify my love).
To make low every mountain and hill means for me to remove sin and the occasions of sin from my life. When I reflect on this, I check out those things that lead me away from God, that distract me from the path of Christian righteousness. One mountain that looms high threatening to darken my journey is the mountain of materialism and consumerism. I reflect on whether I have allowed instances of greed, pride, reluctance to forgive, selfishness, self-centeredness or self-indulgences to make me lose focus on my practicing the virtues of love, goodness, kindness, patience, humility and simplicity.
Setting my priorities right will help smooth over the rugged spots, the potholes of frustration, apathy and despair, the rough country, and straighten out the crooked roads in my life. I review my P & F, Principle and Foundation Statement that I wrote in 1994 when I took the BCBP’s Steward Leaders Training Course. This statement sets out my priorities in life, puts my life in focus, and acts as the signpost on the Road of Life showing me the right way to go when I come to a crossroads. I check my life now against my P & F to renew my commitment to Jesus and His Way. My P & F Statement has proven itself a most valuable guide in decision-making and in discerning whether or not I am doing the things that God wants me to do.
Advent for me is a most welcome time of the year to set my life in order, and strengthen my faith and trust that the Lord can move mountains and fill in the valleys in my life if I allow and welcome His power to work in me. I pray that I do not get all caught up in the blatant and blaring consumerism that surrounds me. This is also my prayer for all of you, my BCBP brothers and sisters. Let us always remember the reason for the season – Jesus Christ who stands knocking on the door of our heart asking to come in. Are we prepared to open the door for Him this Advent/Christmas season?