advent, messiah, preparing, celebrating

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only by preparing, can we truly rejoice in the gift of the Messiah.



When I was a little girl Christmas meant visiting Santa in a large downtown department store. Whether it was cold and snowy, sunny or rainy, my lower middle-class family also feasted on the magnificent Christmas scenes in display windows at the giant Sears store. Each window portrayed winter wonderlands or Santa’s workshops that captured our dreams and imagination. Afterward, dad would treat us to dinner at the now defunct Miller’s Diner. Of course I loved presents, but the warmth of those memories linger longer and deeper in me than any tangible gift I opened in my childhood.

And Jesus? He was an afterthought. Mom was a Sunday church attender and dad did not attend at all.

Advent? That’s something the Catholics did…or something.

Advent: The Arrival

Until several years ago, I’m embarrassed to admit, I continued to believe that Advent was “something the Catholics did “to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

The first Christmas season my husband and I were attending our current church, the pastor announced Advent services toward the end of November. My husband and I looked at each other quizzically. What had we stumbled into? Um. Was this a Cathobaptist Church?! We had some research to do!

As we discovered, Advent isn’t a magical word (or a Catholic word); it simply means “coming” or “arrival.” Our faith tradition had never acknowledged it, to our loss.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:9, ESV

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.

Advent: The Preparation

I think where we might get confused is that we think of this season leading up to Christmas as one of merely celebration, but its origin was “primarily as a season of preparation – a time for prayer and self-reflection,” (Because of Bethleham Study Guide by Max Lucado and Christine  M. Anderson).

I hear what you’re you’re thinking…Wow! Why don’t you just pour cold water on my Christmas?! Do you want me to take down the tree? Pull the lights down from the roof and take the cute snowmen off of my porch? What about the  presents, are they to go, too??

Hold on…there’s more.

Advent: The Celebration

I have found that when I make time to reflect and pray, the Holy Spirit reveals areas of my life where I am weak, where I am needy, where I have been hiding from Him. But I am not condemned! I have Emmanuel: God With Us, God With me. Therefore, Christmas is also a time of celebration and rejoicing!

Can we not hold these all together? Self-reflection, prayer and celebration? I believe that we must.

In an Advent sermon in 1928, the then 22-year-old Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!

Are you troubled in your soul, poor, and imperfect?  Rejoice! The Savior has come!

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.


If you would like to read more, check out these resources. Please consider purchasing them through these affiliate links. This does not raise your cost, and a small percentage will go to help support this ministry:

Because of Bethlehem: Love Is Born, Hope Is Here

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

But I am not condemned! I have Emmanuel: God With Us, God With me. Click To Tweet

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.

Annie Spratt


We are broken, but through His redemption we are made whole. Glory to God!

About the author
Dodie
I’m a happy wife, loving mom of 3, and adoring grandmother of 6, and owner of an adorable Cocker Spaniel. I began blogging in 2016, when, in the midst of completing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, I began radiation treatment for breast cancer. It became a good outlet for me to connect with other survivors and a good way to let friends and family know what I was experiencing.

Life is a journey full of interesting, surprising, heartbreaking and fun things.

Comments (14)

  1. I grew up in a Catholic church so I believed it was something just “we” did. As I got older I separated from the Catholic church. Throughout the different places we’ve lived and churches we have attended there have been some churches that specifically focused on Advent and others that haven’t. Now that I have a better understanding of what advent actually means I worry why all Christian churches don’t focus on this time of Christ coming! It is truly a time of preparation, reflection and celebration!

  2. I too, used to think it was a Catholic thing, not sure why? Anyway, the last few years my family and I have been celebrating as a way to remind us to slow down and refocus. Yes, it’s SO possible to have it all!

  3. Amen sister! I love how you talk about advent being a time of self preparation and reflection too. I haven’t really thought of that much, but more of looking at ways to teach the kids about the truth of this season. Thank you!

  4. As a Catholic, I love your quick and simple explanation of Advent. Thank you for sharing how it is a celebration for all Christians, not just Catholics!

  5. I love Advent and Christmas, because I love Jesus. It is His birth, life and subsequent death and resurrection that make Christmas all that more special. Reflection and celebration, a perfect pairing. Thanks for posting. – Amy

  6. We must prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. We do this by removing sin out of our hearts: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” Deuteronomy 10:16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *