I wrote some weeks ago on preparing, and as we rush in the next sixteen days to The Big Event, I see how difficult it is, despite my best efforts to be counter-cultural/ be true to my faith/wish I were better prepared.
I can see more clearly now than some weeks ago that in daily life there is very little to prepare, compared to life in an age before mass consumerism. Then, preparation for the festivities of Christmas took time; the collect ( special prayer of the day) for one of the last Sundays before Advent begins 'Stir up O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people....' thus giving rise to its popular name 'Stir-up Sunday', which was easily seen in people's minds as a last call to get on with the business of making Christmas cakes and puddings. Preparation was needed, and preparation of heart and mind had at least a better chance of marching in step with life through Advent to the days of Christmas.
Now we go to the supermarket, or order on line, and Christmas arrives, pre-packaged. Little preparation in any physical sense is required. We assemble Christmas from the ready-made and the already gift-wrapped.
Ok, let's move this preparation, this advent mentality, somewhere interior, make it an affair of the heart and mind. Difficult, given that we are so forward-fixed in our culture on The Big Day Ahead and the perfection we expect of Christmas Day, the fantasies we invest in it. The now, the preparation of heart and mind now, seems closed off in so many ways.
But there is virtue in trying, in listening to ancient words which give foundation to all that the 25th could offer to us, if we attend to its voice, instead of devoting all attention to food, presents, drink and tv. Words of hope, words of salvation, of love, of justice, peace- words at the moment I am hearing every day in readings from the prophet Isaiah. 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God'.
Let me dwell in that, be prepared in that.