Thursday, November 30, 2023

Preparing the Way for Advent


By: Donna Bucher

A regular practice of repentance belongs foremost in our spiritual walk with the Lord; however, welcoming the season of Advent accentuates our need for repentance. Regrettably, our hearts grow cold, hardened by repetitive sin.


Focusing on the Joy of Christ’s birth is a stark reminder of our sinful condition, requiring a Savior to provide full cleansing.


One way to prepare the way for Advent, is a call to repentance. A proffered invitation from God the Father, bidding us “return”, return with all our hearts. In Joel 2:12-13we read the full invitation:


"Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."


In this eloquent invitation by Almighty God, we see the components of true repentance: turning to the Lord [from] sin, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. He further directs us to rend our hearts, not our garments, forsaking an outward “show” of repentance, instead opting for true heart sorrow over sin.


God the Father doesn’t simply issue a call for repentance, He entreats us with words of love and reassurance. Speaking His heart, He reminds us He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and great in kindness.


Advent is a time of preparation, self-examination, and transformation. Repentance is the core of true joy-filled Advent anticipation. Mindfulness plays the supporting role providing a prelude to repentance and transformation.


Use the following mindfulness techniques as an inauguration toward a heart posture of repentance. These techniques work best used over a period of days; this is a gentle process requiring an intentionality.


Feel God’s Presence

Before delving into all the ways you failed, hurt others or allowed your sin to overwhelm you, focus on God’s love, mercy and compassion. Remember, He will meet you right where you are.

·        Sit a few moments meditating on a favorite verse about God’s love for you. Say the words out loud or just in your mind, remember, these are God’s words to you.

·        Focus on God’s attributes of mercy, grace, patience, and compassion. Think about the meaning of those words and how God shows these attributes to you personally.

·        Ask God to reassure you of His Presence and make it real to you.


Extend Self-Compassion

Repentance is not about self-condemnation. Romans 8:1 clearly states there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God does not require self-condemnation, guilt or shame.


·        Bring your awareness to the emotions of guilt, shame and self-condemnation. Notice them but don’t “own” them. Notice how they feel in your body; these emotions typically bring uneasiness to the stomach, heaviness to the chest and overall tenseness. With each exhale, focus on an area of uneasiness to release these emotions.

·        Speak the truth of Romans 8:1 to yourself gently. Continue to focus on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.

·        Remember Jesus Christ’s sacrifice covers your sins past, present and future. Mediate on the gospel message of God’s compassion for you.


Gratitude and Glory

Close out each of the above practices in a time of gratitude. Don’t rush this aspect with simple words of thanks. Lingering over the miraculous transformation of authentic repentance, focuses our attention not on feeling bad for our behavior, but on the gracious and glorious God with whom we are in relationship.


The more we focus on God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and abundant kindness toward us, the more clearly we grasp the magnitude of His great love in sending Jesus, our Emmanuel.




How does spending time preparing your heart for Advent through repentance change the way you view Christ’s birth?


How does an attitude of repentance increase your joy?


Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for walking us through the call to repentance as a way to prepare for Advent. I love the invitation in the words from Joel. Thank you for this thoughtful post.


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