1. Assess your priorities.
Advent is a time of preparation to welcome the Messiah anew into our hearts. But in order to welcome him and receive that peace and freedom that only he can give us, we must prepare our hearts for his coming. Come Christmas, will we receive him as the Lord of our lives or as a wanderer who will only disappear in the disorder of our house?
Even if Advent is not as strongly marked by asceticism as Lent, it is still a time of conversion. It is a time for reordering our priorities and preparing the home of our hearts in anticipation of the one who has the power to free us from our chains.
Spend time in prayer with the Lord and assess your priorities to better welcome him and his grace this Christmas.
What needs to change in your life? What are your greatest priorities? Are they in the right order? What are your greatest distractions? What keeps you from fulfilling your daily responsibilities? What does putting God first in your life look like? What is keeping you from making God your greatest priority?
2. If it’s worth celebrating, it’s worth planning.
We know that a good Christmas meal cannot be planned last minute. The same holds true for our spiritual celebration. Preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ is not something we can truly do without a solid plan. We need a reminder not only of what we want to achieve but also of how we can get there.
If we truly desire to make our hearts fit dwellings for the coming of the Lord—at Christmas or at the end of our lives—then we cannot wander around hoping for the best. We need a roadmap, a plan for preparing for the Lord’s coming.
Take time to talk with God about how present he truly is in your life and what changes you need to make to reorder your priorities. The best preparation we can make will be through prayer. Embrace our Advent discipline to “take 3 minutes of silence, longing for the Lord’s coming” each day as a way of expressing your desire for him. Ask him to help you to know how to long for him more, and begin to order your time in Advent toward his coming.
3. Invite other men.
We can only get so far by ourselves. Building fraternity gives us the support and accountability that we need to accomplish what we have set out to do. This Advent will not only help us prepare for Christmas but also for the new year and the start of our central exercise for the year, Exodus 90, on January 1st.
Think about other men you can invite this week. Who else could benefit from this fraternity? This can flow from our Advent discipline to “pray for a friend by name who needs freedom.” Identify family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for whom you can pray. Out of this prayer, you may be inspired to invite them into your fraternity.
If you do not have a fraternity yet, head to the Fraternity Finder to create or join a remote group.
On the app, you will find a meeting guide that will help you hold effective weekly meetings with your fraternity.
4. Be a witness to family and friends.
It can be hard to prepare for Christ’s coming when everyone is already celebrating it. These gatherings, however, enable us to be a witness to the hope we have in Christ. Our Advent discipline, to “be present to your family & friends at holiday gatherings” helps us to focus on this opportunity.
Work gatherings and family parties can feel like a routine part of the holidays. How could make them different by truly being present to the people there, investing the time in them? At Christmas, Jesus descended from heaven to be with us. Our longing for him can express itself in our self-giving presence to others. Without even speaking about it, this will make Jesus present to them through our attention and love.