December 10, 2012

Advent Reality by Sharon Espseth

“Prepare the way. A Saviour is coming. Prepare the way . . .”

I sing as I clean and decorate the house and do my Christmas shopping. The words are the opening lines of a carol our choir will sing for Christmas Eve Mass.

December for most of us becomes a bustle of busyness. Frustrated, I realize my plans once more exceed the time I have to pull my bright ideas, plus traditional expectations, together. The lighting of another candle on the Advent wreath becomes a further reminder that Jesus and Christmas are coming.” Ready or not, here they come.

I practice another tune singing in melody with a little memorized alto thrown in. For another choir number, we chant in soft but urgent voices, “Jesus is coming.” The song swells to a crescendo as Christmas and the end of the song draw near. “Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming,” becomes louder and more insistent. The last notes of the arrangement are staccato and forte. “Prepare!” we almost shout in four-part harmony.

During the first two weeks of Advent, Scripture readings remind us of the prophecy of end times and the second coming of Christ. His coming again is the second meaning of the words, “Jesus is coming.” For that great event also, we need to get ready.

That is what I need to do—prepare my head and my heart for what Christmas is all about. When I do that, I am operating with peace, love, joy, and hope in my heart and mind. Plans of perfection must be put aside. A few jobs that are unrealistic or too demanding need to be tabled for another year. Priorities, as well as the dinner table, need to be set.

Even if my house is far from perfect, Christmas will still come. All of our family will be home and we will enjoy being together. We will read the Christmas story and share love and gifts and interaction. At St. Anne’s on Christmas Eve, I will sing the customary Christmas carols and the new compositions I also love. We will offer a prayer of thanksgiving and we will know we are loved and blessed by God who sent His Son.

As I re-set the agenda, God’s grace is slowly spreading in my heart. My thoughts and prayers go out to others for whom Christmas may not seem that simple or blessed. I pray that my actions will reflect God’s love for others. If the second coming of Jesus happened tomorrow, what would be most important in my getting-ready-for-Christmas list? How shall I prepare?

God’s Grace Begun by Sharon Espeseth

Like Martha, I wanted things perfect
so I rushed from one thing to the next.
Getting nothing accomplished,
I became increasingly vexed.

I stopped in my tracks and I offered
my frustration up to the Lord.M
He said, “Child, you know that I love you.
You don’t need to achieve an award.”

With gentle words, my Lord spoke to me
about quietness, peace, joy, and love.
I needed to slow down and worship
the One given with love from above.

The decorating, cards, and shopping
will in due time and fashion get done.
Advent isn’t a contest or race,
but a season of God’s grace begun.

The above poem was previously published in Purpose Magazine
In December 2010. The devotional was published in Western 

Catholic Reporter in November 2011.


  1. Lovely poem, Sharon! Reading your post brought me back to my own days of singing in choirs and how that helped me navigate my way through Advent. The church we now attend may not have a choir, but I can pick up the alto line while singing carols with The Celtic Women cd in my car! It helps me to slow down and extend grace, both to myself and other drivers.

    Thanks for the timely reminder of what's important at this time of year.

  2. beautiful! Its a great reminder to focus on what's really important.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Writing Friends. Marcia, it's interesting you mention singing alto. Growing up, my sisters could sing harmony, and since my voice was strong then, I sang the melody. A few years ago I decided to learn to sing alto, because our choir needed altos. This challenge has enriched my love of music and, I believe, it is good for my mind as well--like learning to play a new instrument.

  4. Lovely words - in your post and poem. Letting go and just living in the moment of each day. Things will get done (or not) but the important thing is the people and the joy of Christ's coming.
    Blessings and Merry Christmas,

  5. Thanks, Janis, for your comments. You have clearly summed up my message.

  6. "That is what I need to do—prepare my head and my heart for what Christmas is all about. When I do that, I am operating with peace, love, joy, and hope in my heart and mind."
    Thanks for your thoughts, Sharon. This helps me to bring it all into focus. There are things I will not finish - like my cards (gasp!) but Christmas is coming and I will be ready in my heart!
    Pam M.

  7. I'm still working on my (gasp!) cards too, but I am trying to take things in stride. Hopefully they will get there on time. Maybe not, but Christmas will be on time, you can be sure. Thanks for your comments, Pam.


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