Having (mercifully) left Black Friday behind us, we now prepare to embrace Blue-Violet Sundays for the next four weekends, mindful that Advent is the season in which the readings of Scripture invite us to prepare to receive the Lord Jesus.And how do we prepare? Today’s readings from Jeremiah and St. Luke offer some suggestions that we might reflect on in what for many is the most stressful season of all.Jeremiah, confined in the court of the guard, nonetheless speaks with hope as he proclaims, “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” Jesus expands on that promise a bit more colorfully, even frighteningly, painting a grim picture of roaring seas and dismayed nations. “The powers of the heavens will be shaken,” he promises, before the Son of Man comes in glory.“Stand erect and raise your heads,” says Jesus, “because your redemption is at hand.”Since we do not know precisely the day or hour when the Son of Man will come, our challenge is to live our lives in such a way that we are ready to receive him. Pursuing earthly pleasures (“carousing and drunkenness,” to name two) is not going to get it done, says Jesus. Nor, we can surmise, will the accumulation of “stuff,” as many of us are prone to do in these weeks.But neither will filling our hearts with worry and anxiety, and if ever there is a season for worry and anxiety, or for accumulating “stuff” — at least in our secular world — it is the weeks leading up to Christmas.Once again, as is so often the case in Scripture, Jesus urges that we move in the opposite, or at least a very different, direction from what the secular world suggests is the ideal. Do not overvalue the pleasures of earthly life, he suggests; rather, keep your minds and hearts focused on the lasting treasure offered through following the precepts of the Lord (and not precepts splashed across the newspapers and airwaves).In the process, there may be heartache and challenge and even chaos (as Black Friday survivors know all too well). But do not worry; be patient. “Stand erect and raise your heads,” says Jesus, “because your redemption is at hand.”Today’s words from St. Paul to the Thessalonians are helpful, too. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you,” Paul writes, “so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”—Mike Nelson