Activated

ADVENT IDEAS

- Marie Alvero is a former missionary to Africa and Mexico. She currently lives a happy, busy life with her husband and children in Central Texas, USA. ■ By Marie Alvero

I love the idea of Advent, though I admit that I’m not too great at observing it. It comes at the busiest time of the year when I’m rushing to meet year-end goals and deadlines and, of course, prepare for Christmas.

Advent is about reminiscin­g on the significan­ce of Jesus’ first coming, and the anticipati­on believers feel for His second coming. It requires spiritual preparatio­n and isn’t something you can rush through.

Simeon and Anna were present in the temple when Joseph and

Mary brought baby Jesus in to be circumcise­d. Most likely, there were lots of other baby boys being brought into the temple that day. What made Simeon and Anna know Jesus was special?

The Bible doesn’t go into details, but one thing it does say is that they were waiting for Jesus. Anna never left the temple, and Simeon had been promised by God that he would see the Messiah before he died. And when Jesus showed up that day as a tiny baby, the Holy Spirit revealed to them that the Messiah had come. No one knew or was told in advance. I believe their preparatio­n in spirit is what made them ready for that revelation.

Here are a few ways you can join me in preparing this Advent season:

• Read the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. Some of the most beautiful parts of the Old Testament are the parts that prophesy about Jesus. Each time I read these I grasp a tiny bit more of what a big, wonderful, intricate miracle Jesus is! Here are few starters: Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Genesis 12:3, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14.

• I’m going to rewatch The Chosen. I love how the story is told from so many different perspectiv­es, and how it shows the reality of Jewish life at that time.1

• Do something for your neighbors. Giving to the needy is important, but it’s also important to give to those around you, even if they don’t come across as needy. Some things we can do are invite someone over for dinner, bake cookies or brownies to share, host a viewing of a Christmas movie, help with babysittin­g or some other time service.

• Spend time in prayer. This is the thing that takes the most effort for me. It’s not that I don’t pray. But making time to only pray takes tremendous effort for me, even though it’s a vital part of spiritual preparatio­n.

These may not be the most traditiona­l Advent activities, but for me, the point isn’t about observing tradition as much as it is about observing Jesus and preparing for His second coming.

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