About 6 months ago, my wife and I travelled over six thousand miles to Israel with a study group. I am pretty sure I packed the day before we left. Not my wife though. Two months before we left, she had a list and started ordering the things she knew we would need. We bought special hats, cooling towels, sunscreen, digestive medications, band aids, and literally a whole suitcase full of snacks (note: there was no need for these, as the food in Israel is incredible!).
The point is my wife prepares. I procrastinate.
By now, you probably know that this coming Sunday begins the season of Advent. You don’t even need to be religious to get into the spirit. Olive & June sell a “25 Days of Mani Magic” for those of you whose cuticles are drying out. Godiva sells an advent calendar full of chocolate truffles for each day. And hey, who would even think about entering the holiday season without the Mignonne Gavigan Jewelry Advent Calendar? (yes, all of these are real things, and there are plenty more).
But historically, Christians have marked the four Sundays before Christmas by preparing for and reflecting upon the coming of Jesus. I don’t know why it’s supposed to be like this, but God chose to prepare some things in advance of sending his Son, Jesus. Centuries before, he left a trail of breadcrumbs through the Psalms and the Prophets, preparing the hearts of his people with hope. Months before, he prepared Mary and Joseph through a message of peace that everything was going to be okay amidst difficult and unexpected circumstances. And days before the birth, he send a message of great joy to some shepherds, and a sense of deeper, truer love to wise men than they had ever known.
God has actually been preparing for this moment from the beginning of Genesis when he says the offspring of a woman will crush the evil that had been introduced to God’s beautiful world (Gen. 3:15). All through time, God has been faithful to creation – faithful to you and me. When you consider the vast love God must be to continue pursuing us, it’s absolutely mind boggling. And so the question that remains is how do we respond to God’s faithfulness?
Throughout time, people have been responding to God’s faithfulness with a faithfulness of their own. The prophets recorded their visions. Mary and Joseph married and raised this child of God. The shepherds told the story. The wise men brought gifts and offered them to the newborn king.
So this advent season, will you follow in their footsteps? The invitation can start right now. As a church, we will look at Christmas through the lenses of hope, peace, joy, and love over the next four Sundays. But don’t wait to think about these things. Get out a piece of paper. Open the notes app on your phone. Write down what these words mean to you and how they reflect your relationship with God. Think about such things, and with God’s help, make them a reality as Christmas approaches. As we do, may we become the faithful guides of others to the manger of Jesus.