Posted by: Justin Wallace | December 28, 2009

Advent :: Necessary Preparations

We were given full permission by The Transforming Center and Ruth Haley Barton to use the following material. The following material is taken from a series of writing by Ruth called e-reflections.  You can sign up to receive e-reflections for free on the front page of the website. Ruth has written several books, the most recent being Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.

“The word of God came to John in the wilderness.
He went into all the region around the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
As it is written in the book of Isaiah,
“Prepare the way of the Lord.”
~from Luke 3:1-6


Recently I started writing a new book which is always a daunting thing.  As I settled into writing mode, I realized that there was some work I needed to do before I could even begin this project–the work of preparation. Some of the work had to do with the externals of life in time and space.  I needed to think through how I would protect the time for accomplishing this project. I needed to rearrange my calendar, and start saying “no” more to the various kinds of requests that come in.  I needed to clear away the clutter of old files and paperwork that had accumulated during a very busy travel season.

But some of the preparation was also internal. I needed to complete some smaller writing projects first so they were not taking up brain space.  I needed to reacquaint myself with the proposal I had written so long ago and re-engage the resources related to the theme of the book. I needed to enter into a different set of rhythms that would foster the quieter and more receptive stance necessary for me to “receive” a new book. I needed to be with God with the fear and anxiety I always feel when I start a new project so that these inner dynamics did not become hidden obstacles to the work that was ahead.  I needed to hear God speak to me once again about the vision for the book that had caused me to agree to write it in the first place.  It was clear to me that the necessary work of preparation was the only way would I be ready to welcome the coming of this new book.

Preparing the Way
There is something about this experience that speaks to me in very concrete terms about the idea of preparation–one of the great themes of Advent.  Advent is a season of waiting, yes, but it is waiting with a very deep kind of intentionality and openness to receive.

[Click here to read about the theme of waiting.]

There is something for us to do in our waiting; we are to do those things that prepare our souls to welcome Christ deeper into the recesses of our life and being.

In the Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Advent (Luke 3:1-6), John the Baptist says that the first thing we are to do to prepare the way of the Lord is to repent. But what does that have to do with Advent?…

Click here to read remainder of this article

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