I turned the page on my calendar today, making it official – it really is December 1rst. The season of Advent has begun. Time to switch out my pumpkins for candy canes and my Indian corn for a wreath. I am not ready but my calendar shows me no sympathy. There are Christmas lights on my street already. They should inspire me to follow suite, but – I have to confess – I don’t feel like decorating for Christmas just yet. Could it be that with no one coming for the holidays, there seems to be no reason for me to decorate? No reason to prepare, if there is no one to prepare for, right?
Still, advent has a deeper meaning, I think. The dictionary definition of “advent” reads, “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” Makes perfect sense. Jesus’s birth was certainly the arrival of a notable person. It was an earth shaking, world changing, long anticipated historical event. Israel had been watching and waiting for their Savior King to appear for centuries. They had grown weary with the wait, so perhaps weren’t prepared to receive Him when He finally arrived. Not as if they hadn’t had time to prepare though. This event had been foretold long ago with these words of Isaiah,
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Still, they were caught off guard and unprepared. They had not made room to receive this King. They had not prepared a place for this coming Messiah in their lives, in their hearts or in their homes. (I guess that explains the stable and the manger for a bed) Maybe they had secretly given up hope of His ever coming. That could explain why they weren’t prepared for His miraculous appearance when He did arrive. They were no longer watching and waiting with their former eager expectation. In fact, John 1:9-11 tells us what actually happened,
“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
Seems like that is still true today. For many of us, we are not ready to receive the One who came to rescue and redeem us. We are too busy to prepare a place for Him. We are unwilling to receive Him into our lives. And then Advent season comes again, inviting me to prepare, to make time, to make room, to be ready to receive all God wants to give during this season of celebration – to be ready to receive God’s greatest gift, His Son, Jesus.
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
I remember clearly the preparations for Christmas from childhood. We were preparing to receive someone very important. That someone was Santa Clause. This meant a decorated tree of course, so Santa could leave presents underneath it. It meant hanging stockings on the fireplace, so Santa would have something to fill. It meant leaving cookies and milk, so Santa would have a snack. It meant making Christmas lists and mailing letters to the North Pole. It meant being sure the fire was out in the fireplace and the chimney open, so Santa could enter without getting burned. We prepared well for Santa’s arrival.
Even as we prepared for Santa’s arrival, we were preparing in a larger sense to celebrate Someone’s presence with us who was infinitely more abiding and compelling than the brief, gift bestowing, in and out, once a year appearance of someone I soon outgrew. Although I outgrew Santa, I’ve never outgrown Christmas. Celebrating God’s promise to mankind made manifold brings me renewal each Advent season as I refocus on Jesus first coming (promise fulfilled) which leads me to focus on His promised second coming (promise yet to be fulfilled). In the remembering of the first Advent of Jesus come to earth there is great joy. In the promise of His return to earth, Jesus’s second Advent, there is great hope.
So in this Advent season, I can have joy as I remember and celebrate what God has already done for me through Jesus’s first coming and I have hope, sustaining hope, an unassailable hope, as I await Jesus’s promised second coming. These are two of the gifts of Advent, joy and hope. I am definitely in need of both gifts this Advent season. I will unwrap these two now, joy and hope, as I began my preparation process to make room for the coming of my King.
What joy that my King should choose to visit me. I had definitely better make haste to clean and to decorate in His honor so that I will be ready to receive Him when He comes. Jesus has come and He is coming! Time to get ready! Time for me to prepare my home and my heart! (I guess I’ll be having company after all)
“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.’ ” (John 14:23) Jesus also said,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I shall come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) The Living Bible translation of these words of Jesus reads,
“Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears Me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus wants to come in to be with me! Am I ready? Have I prepared a place for Him? That is the purpose of this Advent season – to be ready to receive God’s gift of His Son.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
time to prepare!
sincerely, Grace Day