There is no snow here yet. Nothing says Christmas to me like snow does, although in most of the world there is never snow on Christmas day or on any other day of the year either, for that matter. Snow, it turns out, is not a required prerequisite for the celebration of Christmas. Christmas music, though, is a must for me. I love the old Christmas carols which we still sing today. One particular carol is already playing in my head as I begin another day in this Advent season. It is “Joy to the World.”
This song has stood the test of time. Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, the words proclaim – Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing . . .” This is definitely a song written by someone who understood the importance of Advent. Watts wrote about preparing to receive this Notable Person by making room for Him in our hearts! I guess the problem of an overcrowded heart, full of worldly desires and concerns, or perhaps filled with greed, envy, strife, unforgiveness, anger, pain, the busyness of good deeds etc. is not a circumstance new to our present day.
When Jesus came here two-thousand twenty-one years ago, people’s hearts and lives were already full – full of themselves – full of the Law they tried in vain to keep – full of rules and regulations that left them exhausted and empty. And yet they had no room for Jesus. They had not even attempted to prepare a place for Him. But in their defense, they were caught off guard. They had been waiting such a long time that they had ceased being watchful for or even expecting, for that matter, the arrival of the Messiah whom God had promised to send to them.
Advent is watching for, expecting, preparing, waiting, hoping, believing – all these are a part of the Advent experience. This reminds me of something Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 24:42-44 when He said,
“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.” Then Jesus told the story of a master who went away on a long trip and put his servants in charge of his household in his absence until such time as he returned. Would the servants faithfully carry out their master’s business while he was away, or would they do their own thing, neglecting the tasks he entrusted to them? Then Jesus says this,
“It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” (Matthew 24:46)
“doing so” – in this story refers to being about the business that the owner of the house had charged them with doing. The servants were to be watching for, expecting, preparing for, waiting for, hoping for the return of the owner of the house – who was their provider and protector. They were in a season of Advent, if you will, until the owner should return. (which would be a notable event)
We, too, dear readers, are in a season of Advent in addition to our annual Christmas Advent. This earth belongs to our Heavenly Father. He created it and left us in charge of His creation until such time as, like the homeowner in Jesus’s story, He returns. When He comes back, will He find me busy with my own affairs or will He find me faithfully following and carrying out His instructions? In this Advent season, as I prepare to celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’s first coming to earth; I am mindful that there is another Advent (or notable event) yet to come. Jesus will return to earth one day. I am given a head’s up about this event in Acts 1:10-11 –
“They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.’ ” Then I read these words –
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) And Luke 21:27 tells me –
“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
It will be impossible to miss this big event. But will I be ready? It is hard to prepare for because –
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. . . . If He comes suddenly, do not let Him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!” (Mark 13:32-37)
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
To participate in Advent is to keep watch – It is to celebrate Jesus’s first coming while preparing for His second. Israel was not prepared to receive Jesus at His first coming. Hopefully, we will be better prepared to receive Jesus when He comes again. I pray He may find me waiting, watching, expecting, preparing, hoping, believing – with my home, my heart and my life open to receive His presence because I have made room for Him to enter in.
“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)
Come Lord Jesus, enter in, fill every space in my home, my heart, and my life –
sincerely, Grace Day