Living the Christian life can be like hanging onto the pommel of a bucking horse. This is often true in Advent. Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. But in our culture, it is also a time of much activity and pressure– not only in preparations for Christmas and giving to others, but because many jobs include tasks that have to be done “by the end of the year.”
We may want to give more time to quiet and reflection, but it doesn’t always work out. Then, trying to be peaceful becomes frustration and anger at not having it. I have experienced this many times but knew there must be a better way to prepare our hearts in the midst of activity.
My answer came suddenly from one line in an Advent reading by Austin Farrer: “We do not ascend to God, he descends to us.” This is a radical statement, but it is the Gospel. I do not have to perform, I do not have to “rise to the occasion,” work my way into peace, or even get in the right Christmas spirit. Ascending to God is not the Advent message. To prepare my heart, all I can do is to come as a little child, admitting I can’t do any of those things myself. Then I’ll be ready to invite him in, as God descends to us, as a vulnerable baby, accepting us just as we are.