Word of the Month

Open up a little door in your heart!

December 2010

Throughout the season of Advent and Christmas I often hear people say: “I can hardly believe that it is almost Christmas! I’m not even in a Christmas mood yet.” This has to do with the fact that we all have to go about our daily work and do not have any time for true reflection and contemplation. It is all the more beautiful that the time of Advent precedes the celebration of Christmas, because there are many beautiful Advent traditions that lead up to the feast of Christmas. If we therefore utilise the time of Advent in conscientious fashion, we will indeed get into the Christmas spirit. Then we will look forward to the feast of Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

In many countries people traditionally put up Advent calendars in which they can open up a little door each day. Behind each of these doors is a little surprise – and once the last little door has been opened, it is Christmas. This Advent tradition thus leads right into to the feast of Christmas. Another tradition that is fairly widespread is the Advent wreath. Each Sunday in Advent you light a new candle. When all four candles are burning you know that Christmas is here!

Now I will apply these traditions to the spiritual level. In our lives there are also perhaps days when we think: “I really cannot get myself into the mindset of Christ’s return.” At such times we have the impression that this day is still quite far away. Here too, we must practise similar Advent traditions and give some attention to things that will help augment our joy. Then we must take the same sort of actions we take with the Advent calendar or Advent wreath.

There are many who still keep one or the other little door in their hearts closed. But let us try opening up a little door in our hearts! Perhaps we have in the past not been so willing to offer and sacrifice, or to serve the Lord. Why don’t we then open this little door of offering, sacrificing, and serving in our hearts? Perhaps our prayer life could be a little more intensive. So why not open up this little door of prayer in our hearts? This will bring us new joy, and will lead us into the great Christmas feast for which we are waiting – the return of God’s Son! Perhaps we are also lacking in trust in the Lord or in the messengers He sends to us. In that case, let us open up this little door in our hearts so that trust can enter in!

It is similar with the Advent wreath. Why don’t we light a little candle? It may be that someone in our surroundings is just waiting for such a sign of joy. In order to promote peace, let us light such a candle of joy and peace! Such actions will lead us into the feast of Christmas and will increase our anticipation of the day of the Lord. Let us therefore not simply stand there idly and wait, but instead let us be active! That is our Advent. The more we take action in this, the greater our joy and the greater our anticipation. Then our hearts will burn with the sincere wish: “Lord, come soon!”

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)