“As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”’” (Mark 1:2-3, NRSVue)
Advent is a season of preparation for the Savior, who has already come but is also coming anew in our midst. In other words, we’ve been through this drill before. Every year, Christmas rolls around, and we’re almost always behind in getting ready before we’ve even begun the preparations. We prepare in fits and starts, hoping that we might get a breather before all the Christmas parties and family events begin, but last-minute preparations leave us exhausted, stressed out, and on edge. We vow to do better next year. But here it is “next year,” and nothing seems to change. We’re struggling to get ready.
I know there are expectations about gifts, traditions, and gatherings, and I’m confident you’ll navigate all the realistic and unrealistic expectations with the same tact and grace you always have. Again, this is not your first rodeo—you’ve got this. I want to challenge you to get your Christmas priorities articulated and ordered before you let everybody else’s hopes and dreams start dictating how you experience the holidays this year. I think that’s what the prophets (not just Isaiah as Mark says, but Micah, too) mean when they say to make the path Jesus will travel on straight. They are talking about the path to your heart. When the holidays are all said and done, what type of home have you made for Jesus in your heart? That’s the most essential preparation you can do. Even if you disappoint some of the folks in your life by making this a priority, it will make you a better “you” for yourself and them, too.
Even though it’s a busy season, I hope to see you in church this Sunday—either at 8:15 a.m., where we’ll hear about God’s surprise in coming to meet us, or at 9:00 a.m. Family worship, where the children and Terry Stubblefield will inspire us with their worship leadership, or at 11:00 a.m., where we’ll hear our amazing Adult Choir and Orchestra present an inspiring cantata. Don’t forget to invite your friends, too. Let’s get ready together!