Prepare to stop, listen and reflect

Preparation for Christmas in full swing. The second week of Advent continues to call for reconciliation as a way to prepare for Jesus’ coming. With all the busyness of the season, it can be hard to find the time to reflect on our relationship with God. Reconciliation requires that we stop and look at our thoughts, words, actions and inactions. It requires time and may not fit easily into our schedule. But similar to baking, the time you take to prepare will be seen in the results.

I love baking and Christmas is the time of year that I can gift others with my baked goods without needing any other reason than the season. I gift so much baking, that I need to project-manage my efforts. Creating a list of ingredients for seven different kinds of cookies and at least five different tea breads allows me to make one trip to the grocery store, but in order to do that, I need to know which recipes I’m going to use.

Not only that, but with a full-time job, finding the time to bake requires  that I look at my schedule and plan what item is going to be baked on what day. Some cookies require the dough to be chilled prior to shaping and baking, so unless I want to finish at 3AM, I will prep the dough the day before I plan to bake. Some cookies take less than 10 minutes to bake, others will take a bit longer. Those minutes of waiting in between are precious time that I can use to reflect on Christ’s birth and what I need to do to become closer to Him.

One definite way is to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. Making it a priority isn’t easy. One year I had two errands: confession and purchasing gift tins for my cookies. I was concerned that the traffic at the mall might lead to my missing confession, so I went to church first. It made sense to me until my temper was sorely tested in the parking lot of the mall. It took all the grace I received in the sacrament to smile and not react to the aggressive drivers trying to find a spot or vacate one. It was a great lesson and one I don’t wish to repeat.  What good is putting confession first if I lose my temper within the hour?

While celebrating the season is important, don’t forget to make time to prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We need to stop, listen and reflect on His Word. Only then can we begin to take a step in coming closer to Him by meeting God in the sacrament of reconciliation.

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