Today I am dealing with an age old dilemma, “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This is personally relevant for me today as I continue my decoration a day Christmas preparations while asking myself, “if I decorate and no one sees my decorations, did I really decorate?” And so I am back to where I started on December 1rst, who am I preparing for this Christmas?
Whom am I preparing to receive? Not family or friends, as in years past. This year, due to COVID restrictions, I have no expectation that I will be receiving any guests into my home. Which has left me with no reason to decorate from the very beginning of this Advent season. And yet I have been preparing anyway, despite the tree in the forest reality being ever present in my mind. Preparing for what or for who? I ask myself this question anew each day of this ongoing Advent season.
Meanwhile the countdown to Christmas continues as does the dominance of COVID rules and regulations in my daily life and in our lives corporately. I am missing Christmas parties, Christmas concerts and yes, even crowded malls filled with frantic Christmas shoppers. All are a typical part of pre-Christmas preparations.
Maybe a “field of dreams” mantra would serve me well during this Advent season? You know, “if I build it, they will come,” translated “if I decorate, Christmas/people will come!” After all, Advent is about hope and faith. I imagine that first Christmas the people were a little short on both, as they had experienced four hundred years of silence from their God and were still waiting for the prophecies they had been given to be fulfilled. God had made promises to His people through the prophets, like Isaiah, but none of the promised events had happened yet. The Israelites were still waiting.
Or were they? Or had they given up any hope of a Savior being sent and were just going about their lives without any expectation of God’s intervention on their behalf? This loss of expectation, the loss of hope, the loss of faith in God – all are tied together – when we lose faith, we lose the hope our faith contains. Advent is all about eager expectation. It is about hope. It is about faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Another translation uses these words, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Jesus has come to earth! We are celebrating that promise kept even as we wait in expectation for His promised return. John 1:14 described Jesus’s first coming with these words,
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
But now we have been waiting for over two thousand years for Christ’s return. We can identify with the people living at the time of Jesus’s birth. They weren’t exactly on high alert. They weren’t waiting with any sense of immediate expectation. Consequently, they weren’t prepared to receive their promised King. Jesus would later ask this important question of the people as He taught them,
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
In other words, will I still be watching, waiting, preparing and believing for Jesus’s return? Will I still hope in His promised return because by faith I believe every promise in His word? Will Jesus find me faithful? Will He find me decorated and ready for His return? These words from Matthew 24:42-44 and Matthew 25:13 are good advice,
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. . . . So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. . . . Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
I’m sure Noah felt a little foolish building that big boat during a drought and no where near a body of water. Still he prepared as one who believed what he could not see. So who am I not to prepare, even though this Christmas there would appear to be no reason to prepare?
Still, I now have to confess – I have had an unexpected visit from friends, brief but so welcome! So there are witnesses after all to my Advent preparations! (at least to what has been done thus far) Which did not include baking cookies because who would eat them if no one came? (well, that is a rhetorical question but the answer would be me if there was no one to share them with and that would not be good but . . . )
So, today I will play some Christmas music as I continue to prepare my home, my heart, my gifts, (still feeling like the little drummer boy in that regard, but my toe makes it hard to get out and shop) maybe even food, so that I am ready to receive whoever this Advent season brings into my life.
The Christmas song “Joy to the World” says,
“Let every heart prepare Him room” that’s the purpose of the preparations of Advent . . .
I don’t want to make the mistake of the first Christmas when,
“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.” (John 1:10-11)
Not this time! This time, let the whole world rejoice!
“Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth.” (Psalm 96:10-13)
Our Redeemer has come! Our Redeemer is coming again! Remember, rejoice and give thanks!
sincerely, Grace Day