We were coming back from Charge Conference in Hendersonville on a recent Sunday evening when Lauren spotted it—a house and lawn decked out in all manner of lights and Christmas decorations! “Oh, no,” she exclaimed. “Too soon!”
Yes, the season seems to come a little earlier each year, regardless of whether we are ready for it or not. But then, isn’t that the message of Advent? Through the prophecies of the Old Testament and, of course, the words of Jesus himself, one message rings clear and true: “Get ready. Prepare your hearts. The King is coming!” And so is Christmas as we have come to know it today: the lights, the shopping, the gifts, the parties, the busy-ness, and more. Yes, it is what it is! But it isn’t what it has to be for us.
Sure, we get caught up in the frenzy, maybe even enjoy some of it (like the lady who told me she loved rushing out in the early hours of Black Friday to do her shopping!?!). But surely we understand that “getting ready” isn’t about decorating our homes and buying presents. It’s about getting ready to receive again the greatest gift we could ever have.
Phillips Brooks, one of the great preachers of the past, who also penned the favorite carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” wrote of the One whose coming we celebrate this wonderful season: “I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the kings that ever reigned, and all the parliaments that ever sat, put together, have not affected the life of (humanity) half as much as this one solitary life… JESUS CHRIST!”
In another week we begin the season of Advent, a time of getting ready. May this truly be a time of reflection and devotion as we make our hearts ready to celebrate God’s wonderful gift!