Reflection by Shannon Kelly
Advent is a time of preparation and our reading today is a call to just that. A call to let go of the past and lean toward a future that is yet unseen. John the Baptist, a prophet and truth-teller, is calling people to “Prepare the way of the Lord.” How does one prepare for the coming of Christ? We prepare by readying our hearts, souls, and minds to receive Christ and in this act, we are opening ourselves to new possibilities, new thinking, new living.
I find gratitude to be an extremely useful tool in preparing myself for anything because it reminds me of what I have, the experiences that shape me, and the love that surrounds me. Each day, at the end of the day, I write down three things for which I am grateful. (Sometimes a few more if I can’t narrow it down to only three.) They can be simple things like dinner and games with my family, finishing a project, or watching the sunset as I walk my dog. Or they can be big things like when a loved one reaches a goal, a new job, a birth, a wedding, or adoption. Truth be told, there are also days when I struggle to come up with one, let alone three, and on these days when I dig deep to find what seem like small and insignificant things to be thankful for, I realize that no matter how bad my day, there are always at least three things that that made my life better. And when I do that, it completely reframes the day. I also have discovered that there is a close link between how grateful I am and how generous with others I am able to be. It is in giving gratitude for the day that is past that I’m able to more fully prepare and embrace the next day, being more generous both with myself and with others.
Melody Beatie wrote, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Naming our gratitude for what may seem like small things in our lives often allows the big stressors to melt away, even for a moment. Sometimes, it is in giving thanks that we are able to live in the moment, to let go of the anxiety, to leave behind the “what if’s,” and truly prepare the way for God to come into our lives in the most unexpected and generous ways.
Our world is a challenging place right now, one that can consume us if we let it. Finding our voice of gratitude helps ward off the weightiness of the news and events happening around us, because gratitude is also a form of love. In practicing gratitude, we find those things that we truly love and those things that sustain us. In the words of The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, “Love will show us the way.”
Take some time this week to write down three things for which you are grateful. If they involve another person, reach out to that person and let them know. Notice what brings love into your life and cultivate it. In doing so, you will change your world and prepare the way of the Lord.
Follow along with us this Advent season with our daily devotional and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner & The Rev. Jan Kwiatowski.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.