November 30, 2011

How Can We Prepare?

This morning I prepared quick breads for a gift. I carefully measured the ingredients and selected fresh cranberries and an apple and chopped them into to the perfect size chunks.  After baking, I placed the loaves in a basket that I had decorated for the occasion.

We prepare meals for our families, making sure each element of the meal is properly seasoned and cooked. And this time of year, we prepare our homes for the holiday season with attention to detail in our decorating. No room is overlooked, and each is duly cleaned and prepared for decoration. 
Have you given some thought to what we are preparing for? We may be thinking of holiday visitors in our homes when we dust each nook and cranny, placing our evergreens and treasured decorations just so.

But have we thought about preparing our hearts for the holiday? The season of Advent in the Christian tradition means to prepare for the coming of the Christ. We celebrate the miraculous birth of God’s own Son born into human flesh. The preparation we need to focus on is preparing ourselves to receive this extraordinary gift.

Retelling the story of Jesus’ birth brings a dimension of expectancy to the Christmas season. Think of Mary, laden with child, traveling far distances by donkey only to be turned out from a warm bed to a cold stable, bringing forth her firstborn son in a humble animal shelter. Surely the birth of the Son of God deserved greater fanfare than mooing cows and clucking chickens.

But in His humble beginnings, God shows us that greatness can be born amongst the least of us. God uses each of us, according to His purpose, to further His Kingdom here on earth. Whether we are rich or poor, lowly and meek or born to greatness, we each have purpose in the Kingdom of heaven. And that heaven is right here on earth, right now.

So we prepare our hearts and our homes for the joy of the coming of the Christ child, knowing it isn’t the decorations we place that welcome the child, but a warm and loving heart that embraces all of God’s people right where they are. Give to the needy, pray for the grieving, and open your heart to the One who can bring us peace here on earth. It’s His birthday we’re celebrating. The greatest gift we have ever received.

With grateful thanks we prepare to receive the joy of knowing Christ in our lives as we celebrate with loved ones in the season of giving. May you know His love and peace.

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