December 01, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"A Time to Prepare"We had some friends over for dinner recently--nothing fancy, just a casual gathering. I bought a couple of chicken breasts from a local butcher and decided to cook them up on the grill. To prepare the chicken for the grill I had to first use a paring knife to trim off the excess fat. A sharp knife was invaluable for the task!
The season of Advent is being celebrated by Christians around the world right now. The wisdom of Advent is wisdom that is found in all religious traditions: We need to first prepare our hearts, souls and minds in order to allow God to more fully enter our lives. Just as a gardener needs to first prepare the soil before the seeds are planted, we also need to prepare ourselves to be in a better place to receive the seeds of God's life-giving Spirit.
So how might we approach this spiritual preparation? One way to approach it is the reflect on the root meaning of the word prepare. This word has two components. "Pre" of course means before, which speaks to preparing as being something we do before or in anticipation of something that will be happening soon. "Pare" means to trim, or to cut. Think of the paring knife you have in your kitchen drawer. I used such a knife to trim the chicken breasts I referenced earlier, to prepare them for cooking on the grill.
Following this line of thinking, we might ask ourselves in this season of Advent, what needs trimming in our lives? Is there something we want to cut back on, or cut out of our lives? We might want to trim our busy calendars. We might want to cut back on our judging of others or our talking about others behind their backs. We might want to consider trimming the amount of food or alcohol we are consuming. Each of us knows best what may need trimming in our own lives in order to make room for a greater sense of spiritual, emotional and relational wellness to take root.
Many of us will be doing some extra cooking and entertaining this time of year. In the midst of that cooking, when you get your paring knife out of the drawer use it as a reminder to reflect on what might need a little trimming in your life right now. At a time of year when many of us are adding more and more to our lives, we may find that little trimming here and there is just what we need most.
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