Can you imagine the baby shower Mother Mary threw for Jesus? What a jammer! Auntie Elizabeth, pregnant herself, would have brought the creamiest triple chocolate cake. Joseph would have surprised Mary with the comfiest rocking chair, built by hand of course. Father Simeon, their local priest, would have entertained everyone with his unexpected dancing abilities. “It’s a Boy!” the crowds would yell as they sipped mimosas from their terra-cotta mugs.
Whether or not baby showers were a thing in first-century Israel, Mary and Joseph would have made certain preparations for Jesus’s arrival. As we enter this Advent season, let us also make certain preparations for Jesus. Let us embrace this liturgical season as if we’re welcoming a newborn of our very own into our families.
“I haven’t had any kids yet! How in the world do I prepare for a baby?!” Well, you needn’t worry. Uncle Tanner is here to save the day. Here’s a prenatal guide for all you Advent Adventurers!
Make a Crib
Every baby needs a place to rest. Just as parents need to make space in their homes for their newest members, we need to make space in our lives for Jesus. We need a secret place in our hearts for him to dwell.
Use this season to think of your heart as a home. How warm is your home? What are the things crowding your floors? Who are the people you continually invite over, despite the fact that they always leave your house a mess? Before Baby Jesus comes, tidy your house up. Get rid of the things that don’t make it a warm environment. Confession is a great tidy-upper!
I remember, way back when, helping to build my baby brother’s crib. Before he was even born, I felt a deep connection to him because of the amount of time and care I was pouring into him. Giving Jesus the time and care before Christmas Day is the best way to build a relationship with him, and the best way to give him time and care is through the sacraments! The Mass is the best crib-builder!
Real quick: It’s tempting to think that we need everything in order for us to let him into our lives. However, he was welcomed into this world in a manger! In a barn! Next to animals that definitely weren’t potty-trained! He’s no stranger to dirty, cold places. You don’t need to have everything perfectly organized for him to enter your life.
If you do know that he’s coming, though, you have the time right now to do what you can with what you have available. Create that space for the Lord. It doesn’t have to be the perfect space, but it should be intentionally prepared.
Think About the Name
Before a baby comes, parents spend serious time coming up with the perfect baby name. We luckily don’t have to come up with anything for Jesus, because the angel Gabriel took care of that for Mary. But we can sit with the name of Jesus. Have you ever spent time just meditating on the name of Jesus, the name “Immanuel, which means, ‘God with us’” (Mt 1:23)?
Jesus says in John 14:14, “…if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” His name carries so much power. Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Have you ever just spent time thinking about the power of Jesus’ name? Do you believe in the power of Jesus’ name? Do you fully believe in the power of his name? Just as parents spend time with the names of their children, we should spend time with the name of Jesus.
And what about all of his “nicknames”? Lamb of God, Chief Cornerstone, Bread of Life, Messiah, True Vine, etc. There are so many names to consider during this special time of year. During Advent, spend time in prayer meditating on the name of Jesus. Spend time thinking about the implications of each of his titles and how each of those titles impacts your understanding of him.
Give a Baby Shower Gift
I’m no baby shower historian, so I doubt such celebrations were in vogue in ancient Israel. However, just because Mary wasn’t able to throw one for Jesus doesn’t mean that we can’t. We gift our loved ones for their birthdays, and baby showers give us the chance to gift our loved ones for their days of birth. If Jesus is truly one of our loved ones, let’s treat him and his day of birth no differently.
The three kings gifted Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Fun fact: During the time of Jesus’ birth, frankincense and myrrh would have actually been worth more than gold. Because of their scarcity, they came at a premium. What can we offer Jesus that is worth more than gold? I personally don’t have deep pockets, so what can I possibly give him? Maybe I can pick up a spiritual book as a gift of time. Maybe I can volunteer at the food bank as a gift of service. Maybe I can volunteer for my church’s choir as a gift of talent. Giving Jesus intentional gifts prepares our hearts to receive him more fully.
Tell Your Family and Friends
Very rarely does a couple go their whole pregnancy without telling any family members or friends about their situation. Eventually, the belly gives it away. Likewise, we should be so full of Jesus that we just have to give him away.
It’s always exciting and nerve-wracking for a couple to share their good news with their loved ones. Likewise, it should be a joy to share the ultimate Good News with our loved ones. Take some time to be intentional with your parents, siblings, besties, etc., to let them know what God has been doing in your life. It can be scary to reveal that kind of information, but —just like with babies — our faith is one that is meant to be shared with our community.
Go on A “Babymoon”
Before my best friend’s baby was born, he and his wife went on a babymoon. A “babymoon,” in case you’re wondering, is essentially a “honeymoon before the baby comes.” It’s a time to really soak in the current season of one’s life before entering into another one.
Take this time to really embrace the season. Spend time with your family and friends. Watch Christmas classics. Sleep. Pick out the best-looking Christmas tree. Decorate a gingerbread house. Sleep some more. Ride a horse-drawn carriage. Look at Christmas lights. Sing Christmas carols in your neighborhood. Did I say sleep? And have fun! “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” for a reason!
Happy Advent, y’all.