“This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.” ~ Frank McKibben
McKibben has a very profound quote for us today. In short, he is stating that the exterior must reflect the interior. If we do everything on the outside to be ready for Christmas — decorate, give gifts, send cards, sing carols — but do not prepare ourselves on the inside, we are going to come to Christmas Day feeling empty. For good reason. We will feel empty because we will be empty inside.
Our external preparations for Christmas should reflect what we are doing internally. There is more to Christmas than decorating and partying. There is the preparation of the soul to receive so great a guest. Jesus came into the world on Christmas Day. We prepare not only to celebrate that birthday but to remember that He will come again. Thus, our preparations should include some work on the inside as well as the outside, the preparation of our souls as well as our homes.
Advent gives us plenty of opportunity to prepare the soul. Maybe it would be good to try to pair the two preparations. We might want to make a list of things “to do” to prepare for Christmas. Next to each external activity — cards, baking, decorating, shopping — we should also write a spiritual activity — praying, volunteering at a soup kitchen, singing carols at a nursing home. That would balance the list and help us to work on the internal as well as the external.
If we are not prepared interiorly, Christmas is only going to be a day. That would be a tragedy because Christmas is not a day. Christmas is not even a season. Christmas is a reality, a reality that should be lived out every day of our lives.
FAITH ACTION: Think about the true meaning of Christmas and check to see if your Advent plans are helping you to develop a humble heart. If necessary, modify your Advent journey.