The first day of a new year.
The first day of school.
The first day of summer.
The first day of the Christmas holidays.
The first Sunday of Advent.

The first day of any new period is considered to be a fresh opportunity to do something new; to take up a new habit; to eliminate tendencies that are not allowing us to move forward; a time to set new goals and stick to them. We look at ‘firsts’ with anticipation, whatever this could mean to each individual person, depending on our personal circumstances. Some have a positive perspective of this and recognise it as an encouraging boost and well-needed push towards a new endeavour. For others, ‘firsts’ are seen as discouraging times, becoming more aware of the inability to stick to new decisions due to our inclination to procrastinate or habit of giving up. Others still might think of new periods in life to mean absolutely nothing at all.

The first Sunday of Advent marks not only the first day of the season but also the first day of preparation on multiple levels with the most practical one being the planning of Christmas activities, family outings, buying of gifts and so much more. It is so easy to get caught up in our to-do lists as they pile up, reflecting also the state of our hearts. As we go about our days, we tend to put our heart aside, getting through each day with total disregard to our internal wellbeing.

As we go through life’s experiences, we store hurts within our heart, which if not dealt with, can take up space that could otherwise be filled with the peace and joy that Jesus brings, especially during this season of Advent, leading up to the ultimate gift of Himself during Christmas. If our hearts are packed with years of unforgiveness, there is no room for Jesus to cultivate a gentle heart of joy. We can use this time to pray to God to reveal any unforgiveness, grudges, and hurt within us that is taking up too much space, making way for the love that this season can bring into our life, transforming us in a way to live it out with others. One of the ways to do this is to go to confession, freeing ourselves from the burden of carrying the weight of hard feelings we may have towards others or even ourselves.

We can use the season of Advent to actively clean out the dark corners of our heart. We can actively receive the joy and anticipation of the Christmas season, living it out with purpose and hope.

Heavenly Father, during this time of preparation, I actively want to seek time with You. Give me the strength to come to You for forgiveness so that my heart will be open to receive Your grace and the joy that this season brings.

“So then, prepare your minds for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pt 1:13)