• Richard Parrish

Please Clean Your Room


As a child, cleaning my room was not one of my favorite things to do.


It wasn’t that I purposefully ignored my mother’s request, but I was distracted by other attractive opportunities. Playing baseball with my friends was more enjoyable than cleaning my messy room.


However, my pattern of ignoring her requests radically changed on Thanksgiving Day.


Before the meal was finished, Mom would tell us boys: “Christmas is almost here!” She then would remind us with a slight smile: “I certainly hope there will be more than a lump of coal for you this year.”


The message was clear: If I want to experience Christmas fully, it’s to my benefit to obey — not ignore — my mother’s requests!


It’s one thing to be on Santa’s “naughty” list. But I knew I did not want to be on Mom’s “bad” list! To reverse my wayward behavior would require a concentrated effort if I were to experience Christmas, not just observe it.


Handel Brown wrote:

“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.”

Although my track-record hadn’t been all that good in the first ten months of the year, I was grateful for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “There’s still time for me to repent and adjust my ways,” I thought.


In a sense, Advent offers us this same opportunity. Like a child who can’t wait for Christmas to arrive, we must wait. However, this season of “waiting” is not passive. It’s an active preparation that requires faith:

Faith that Christ will come again. Faith that our distracted and disobedient hearts can — and are — being transformed by the Holy Spirit. Faith that Christmas offers promise!

Advent allows us to examine our hearts and prepare for Christ’s coming. This season of preparation is more than just making a “good list.” This season is the opportunity for each of us to “clean our rooms,” — not out of obligation, but desire.


Christmas is to be fully experienced, not just observed.


We need “waiting” time to help us see the buried and neglected items in the rooms of our heart, revealed by the light of the Holy Spirit. And we need faith to believe that our hearts can — and are — being transformed by the Spirit.


Like my Mom’s annual “prompt,” Advent inspires us to examine our hearts and make space for the Holy Spirit to prepare us to receive the full experience of Christmas.


It’s time for me to clean my room— again! How about you?

Prayer when lighting the second candle of the Advent wreath:


“Merciful God: You sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us the grace to heed their warnings and to forsake our sins. Grant us faith to greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer” - Amen.