Lots of people are getting ready for Christmas these days.
Merchants have stacked their shelves to capacity; and they are, now, awaiting the arrival of the Master Cards, Visa cards, and Discover cards. People are baking cookies. Folks are buying presents, stringing lights on the outside of their homes, and wrapping gifts. Little children are writing letters to Santa Claus while their parents decorate the Christmas tree. We have parties to plan, gatherings to organize, houses to clean, and big bowls of eggnog to dust with nutmeg. And, it seems, that it all has to be done “right now.”
Preparation is a normal part of Christmas, and we all know that our time of preparation is limited because Christmas is going to arrive whether we’re ready or not. Can you image a Christmas morning where there aren’t any gifts under the tree because nobody took time to wrap them? Can you imagine attending a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve and watching the room go totally black when the lights are dimmed because nobody bought candles? Preparation is not just about getting ready. Preparation is about getting ready before it’s too late.
John the Baptizer came into the world to “prepare the way” for Jesus Christ. John called people to stop, and look at their lives and relationships. John called people to admit that we all have relationships that aren’t what we want them to be. We all have things in our lives that we need to push into the past, so that God can do something new. We have things that block our vision. We have things that stand between us and God. We have fears and challenges that overshadow God’s plan for our lives and futures. We all have valleys and craters that can make God seem far away.
In this week’s message, “Getting Ready for Christmas”, we’re challenged to admit that, as a well-known Christmas song proclaims, we grow a little leaner, a little colder, a little sadder, and a little older as we travel through life. Circumstances in our lives can steal the twinkle in our eyes and take the spring out of our step. And that’s why we need this special time of the year.
Perhaps, we can use the next few weeks to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ by spending a little bit more time in prayer and reflection? Perhaps we can use the next two weeks to mend some fences and to tear down some of the walls that we’ve place between ourselves and other people? Perhaps, we need some new perspectives? Perhaps, we need to reflect upon what it means to be a child of God in crazy times, and to allow the storm in our souls to be calmed?
Oh, yes! We need a little Christmas – right this very minute! But we, also, need a time of preparation that continues to challenge us to look at our lives in an honest and authentic way; and, perhaps, to challenge us to make some changes – as we long for the Day when God will renew His entire Creation, and bring healing into our lives and into our world.