The First Sunday of Advent has passed. And it was my hope to have this written for Sunday. But I was not prepared. I got busy. There was the planning and shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner. Then there was the baking of the pumpkin pies and the brining of the turkey. And, of course, we had to clean the house. A lot of preparations went into our Thanksgiving dinner, and it was much better because of the preparation.
But now we prepare for Christmas. And that means a lot of shopping (both food and gifts), a lot of decorating (we are still deciding which train goes around the tree this year), a lot more cleaning and baking and cooking. And of course there is my preparation for the Christmas Eve service, as well as the Advent services. There is a lot to be done over the next few weeks.
But there is a lot to be done in my heart as well. And this is the point of observing Advent. It is not just four Sundays before Christmas. It is not just a ritual of lighting four candles, or wearing my purple stole instead of my green stole. Advent is about preparation. And just as good preparations make for a good holiday meal, good preparations of my heart make for a better celebration of the coming of the One who God has sent.
You may be asking “why do you need to prepare?” I am a committed Christian. I believe that Christ resides in my heart already. I am a seminary trained, denominationally ordained, consecrated, called out servant of the Lord. Why do I need to prepare? Because I am human and I get too caught up in all the stuff that keeps me from Christ. This time of year is hard for pastors. We work hard for special meaningful services that impact both the regular attendees and those who might be visiting. We have end of the year expectations. We try to get more visits in during December. We try to meet with more people in the community in need. We try to work out all those end of year trials and tribulations that the business side of the church encounters. And we try to be jolly and joyful with our families, even when the budget is out of whack, the days are long, we are tired, and the last thing we want to do is sing Frosty the Snowman one more time with our children.
So how do we do this? We observe Advent – taking this special, holy time to prepare our hearts, and to focus our thoughts on Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us. And that is why you should observe Advent as well, as the great reminder that this season is about Jesus Christ.
May God bless you this Advent season,