There’s a question we tend to ask each other in December.
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
Last time, when a store clerk asked that question, I began mentally running down the list that seemed pinned to the forefront of my December thoughts.
A list full of presents needing to be bought and mailed; plays and parties to attend; meals to plan and goodies to bake.
So much to prepare and so much still to get ready.
Truth is, I’m one of those who takes the whole month to get ready. It’s not until we’re well into Thanksgiving leftovers that I begin to gather my kids’ Christmas lists and plan the annual Christmas card.
I love December for its beautiful fullness and the excited anticipation. It’s as if the whole world swells with collective expectancy in the countdown to Christmas.
But while checking off my to-do list might prepare my home for December 25th, it’s not what will prepare my heart for Christmas.
I think back to that first advent. For thousands of years, God had promised a Savior. Prophet after prophet had given precise details of His birth and the people waited with such hopeful anticipation.
But when the Savior was born, how many were really ready? In the bustling little village of Bethlehem, overwhelmed by census-travelers and census-takers, all but a few missed the sacred celebration of Jesus’ birth right in its midst.
Bethlehem didn’t even stir. Jerusalem never awakened. And Israel missed the long-anticipated birth of Jesus that night altogether.
Are you ready for Christmas?
That question gives me pause. In all the busyness of shopping and wrapping, baking and parties, have we missed preparing our hearts for Christmas?
December holds the potential of checking everything off our list but missing the sacred celebration of Jesus’ birth.
I want to pause to wonder all over again.
Jesus, very God of very God, clothed in the vulnerability of a newborn; delivered by blood of the mother He came to deliver by blood; the One who holds together all matter Himself needing to be held.
I want to slow down to marvel at His love.
Jesus, the One and Only, sent to a world that overlooked His birth, refused His gift, despised His ministry and betrayed his friendship and He still chose the cross.
I want to worship with all, not leftovers.
Jesus, the I AM, the First and the Last, the only One worthy, the King of Kings who dwells in unapproachable light, wrapped in flesh and tucked into the hay of a cattle trough.
The tragedy for us is not that Bethlehem missed the sacred right in its midst; the tragedy is that we can miss Him too.
In a season with so much to get ready, preparing our hearts for Christmas takes intention. We have to purposely carve out time to spend in His word and in worship.
Advent is not just a time of waiting but a time of coming to Jesus. Advent means “to come.”
And so, this advent, we come to Jesus — to remember again the awe of Emmanuel, God with us.
And we come to Jesus — to respond in adoration and love with our whole hearts.
* * *