In my PA Dutch heritage we have a term, to “read up” – sometimes misspelled as ‘red up.’ But it means to pick up your dirty socks, wipe down the dust on the shelves, put away the toys. “To make ready.”
Every Saturday, as Mom ran the vacuum, watered the plants, wound the mantle clock, we kids were ordered (in generally motherly tones) to put our things away. Not that we expected company, but maybe just the discipline of keeping order in our household – and ultimately as a model for our lives.
This season we are most often consumed by “getting ready” which means putting out all the decorations, doing all the gift-shopping, the baking and cooking… But cleaning out, ‘readying’ our internal houses is what Advent should be about. The word “advent” means coming – with the expectation as a prelude to the opera – the movement of God on our stage.
St. Paul notes in his letter to the Church at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus “emptied himself.” In churchly terms, we call that kenosis – an emptying. We are to be encouraged at this season of preparation to ‘empty’ ourselves and our lives and our busy-nesses so that Christ may enter into that hollowness so we might feel holiness – even as we try to fill that seeming emptiness with glitter and gifts and excessive treats of many kinds. And then the true emptiness of post-Christmas hits us – when the lights fail, the scales tip higher than we would wish and empty boxes and wrapping paper go into the recycling. And those gifts? To the Thrift Shop next year.
But it need not. If we “ready” ourselves – our hearts, souls and lives by emptying ourselves of the pressures of this world’s commercialism to ‘ready’ ourselves to receive the love of God which will fill us with the love that is offered in salvation.