Advent 2: Joyful Preparations

If you are joining us for week 2, you might want to also access other eReflections in this Advent series: Read Advent 1—The Importance of Waking up

Lectionary readings for Dec 08, 2013: Is 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Rom 15:4-13; Matt 3:1-12
Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle A) and guidance on using the lectionary.

“Our spiritual life depends on his perpetual coming to us, far more than on our going to him. Every time a channel is made for him he comes; every time our hearts are open to him he enters, bringing a fresh gift of his very life, and on that life we depend. We should think of the whole power and splendor of God as always pressing in upon our small souls.”—Evelyn Underhill

Several weeks after our first grandson was born, my husband and I had our first opportunity to take care of him all by ourselves. Anticipation was high. Even though he was much too young to notice any of the preparations, I still felt compelled to clean the house, light candles, build a fire, and make cookies for this special “coming.” And while I was doing all that, I kept running to the window to see if he was here yet! The preparations for giving a warm welcome were made joyfully and full of loving expectation.

This is the spirit of Advent—sweet longing, joyful preparation, and loving expectation.

Sometimes it’s John the Baptist in his camel’s hair coat and leather belt crying out for repentance that speaks to us of what it means to prepare the way of the Lord.

Sometimes we know instinctively that there are obstacles that need to be removed and clutter that needs to be cleared out of our hearts and lives before there is any space for Christ to come at all.

And sometimes it’s preparing for the first visit of a tiny grandson that teaches the heart what it means to be ready and to wait with anticipation for the coming of the baby Christ.

O God of hope and joy,
we are waiting for the day
when the glory of your Son
will brighten the night of 
the waiting world.

O God of grace,
ever faithful to your promises,
rejoice in the hope of our Savior’s coming
and look 
forward with longing
for his return.

O God of love,
prepare our hearts
to receive him
when he comes,
for he is our Lord
forever and ever.


©Ruth Haley Barton. 2013. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founder of the Transforming Center.  A teacher, spiritual director, and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

< Read Advent 1: The Importance of Waking up

As you anticipate your journey through the Advent season, what “sweet longing” are you aware of? What preparations do you need or want to make that would help you to receive Christ with joy?

Leave a comment.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thank you, Ruth, for the rich simplicity of these holy truths. I’ve shared your advent links with the people in my world –

Warmest blessings to you … and an extra hug for that grandbaby!


Thanks, Linda!

Join thousands of pastors and spiritual leaders

Receive Beyond Words®, reflections on the soul of leadership. Written by Ruth Haley Barton, each reflection provides spiritual guidance and encouragement for those seeking to be in God for the world.