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Advent: Preparing our hearts

24 November 2021

Advent: Preparing our hearts

Reflections on the season of Advent 

Words Amanda Hart 

Most of us are familiar with Advent calendars – the calendars of all shapes, sizes, and materials that involve opening a little drawer, box, cardboard window, or envelope with a surprise treat inside. These ‘treats’ range from chocolates to tea, toys, perfumes, Bible verses, crafts, and the list goes on. 

In the Christian church calendar, Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin and is a time of preparation and expectation – for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and the second coming of Christ. There is a range of traditions around Avent, including Christmas wreaths, candles, prayers and even fasting.  

Over the next four weeks, Amanda Hart will share her thoughts on the Advent season and how we can use this time to prepare for, and focus on, this special season of the year and the real meaning behind it. 

Do you have a set routine to prepare for each day – breakfast, shower, teeth, hair, clothes? Or is your preparation a case of everything that needs to happen happens at some point? Whether we have a set of routines or we’re a bit more all over the place, we all have our own ways of preparing for the things ahead.  

Preparation isn’t always easy; a lot of work can go into one single moment in life. Think of how much work goes into performing a stage show, for example, when all that most people see is a perfect performance on one night. The Bible – Scripture – is filled with stories about preparation and what is to come. One such story is that of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. 

It had been an incredibly long time since the Israelites had heard from God when suddenly, amid their oppression under Roman rule, John the Baptist breaks onto the scene and proclaims that the time has come to prepare – to prepare for the coming Messiah!  

I imagine the Israelites experiencing a whole range of feelings – from frustration to anticipation – because they had been living for so many years under Roman oppression, but now they were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They had read over and over the story of the coming Messiah, they had waited expectantly, and now they were being told he was on his way.  

The people were already excited when Jesus commenced his outreach and ministry because John had prepared their hearts. 

Advent, the lead-up to Christmas, is a time of preparation. It’s a time when we prepare our hearts as we remember the true meaning of Christmas – that God sent his son, Jesus, to the world to bring peace, hope, love, and joy. It’s also a time when we prepare our hearts to receive what God has in store for us in the days, months, and years to come.  

What are you preparing to receive this Advent season? 

Matthew chapter 3, verses 1-3  

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: 

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, 
make straight paths for him.’”  

Captain Amanda Hart is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in Victoria. 



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