Prepare the Way
"Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for Him."
- Luke 3:4
I spent much of yesterday and early today cleaning house with my family. We took down fall/Thanksgiving decorations. We said "hasta lavista" to all of our usual decor, and we put up Christmas decorations. Pictures, candles, cards, wreaths, lights, tins, books - you name it. If it has a Christmas connection - it's now present in every visible part of the parsonage.
The Church celebrates two major holidays each year. These "holy" days are significant enough that they require periods of preparation. Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection, and Christians are invited to prepare during the season of Lent.. Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth, and we're invited to prepare during the season of Advent. As we enter into this Advent season, let us prepare our homes (and our hearts) to welcome Christ.
How will you prepare?
PRAY - One of the earliest children's songs I learned was, "Read the Bible, Pray every day." Whenever I need to renew my discipline of daily devotion, I remember the words of this song. God invites us to start (and end) each day centered on God - to have prayer and Scriptures guiding our minds and guarding our thoughts. If you need to (re)start this spiritual discipline, start by setting aside 15 minutes each day for a daily devotion.
PRIORITIZE WORSHIP - As important as it is to pray/study Scripture on our own, it is just as important to worship God with the Church. Communal worship reminds us that there are two parts of the Great Commandment. Jesus teaches us to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND to Love our Neighbor as ourselves. God designed us for community - to need it, to desire it, to find joy in it. So, prioritize weekly worship as an essential part of life.
PRIORITIZE SERVICE - In his parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25,) Jesus says, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me." Whenever we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, welcome the stranger - whenever we bless children, orphans, and widows - whenever we offer food/coats/compassion for the hurting - in all of these ways, we welcome Christ.
Another way to put it, Jesus lives among us today. Patiently and persistently, he pursues you and I. The question is not if God will show up this Christmas, but will we? Will we seek - will we search - will we slow down long enough - will we be still long enough - to hear the still small voice of our Lord who coos and cries, blesses and beckons us to worship?
With humble hearts, let's observe a holy Advent.