Preparing for Christmas
Are you prepared for change? So many people don’t like change. Others enjoy it – or at least tolerate it – but never really prepare for it. But here’s the truth: we should always be prepared for change!
And here’s another truth: Christmas is all about change! We change our homes by adorning it with decorations. We change our budget – setting aside money for gifts and travel and parties and special foods. We change our radio stations to the “All Christmas All The Time” stations. We change our eating habits as we tend to overindulge ourselves with Christmas treats. We change all kinds of things in our lives for Christmas. So, really it’s kinda strange that any of us are averse to change! Clearly we like the changes of the Christmas season so much that many people express their desire to extend the Christmas feeling all year long.
Yes, Christmas is about change. And perhaps Christmas could teach us to embrace change more. Think about this: we make lots of preparations for Christmas AND we enjoy the changes within the Christmas season. Perhaps, just perhaps, preparation is a key to enjoying change. God certainly seems to think so. Just look at the Christmas story itself, particularly the way it begins.
Usually during the first week of Advent we begin the Christmas story by reading about Jesus cousin, John the Baptist. Now, John wasn’t a baptist in the way we think of Baptists today. In fact, he was far more radical than the baptists we know today! But, in all seriousness, John did baptize people and became known for doing so.
The story of John the Baptist goes like this (at least in the book of Mark):
It was written in the prophecy of Isaiah: “Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.'”
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:2-8)
John came, according to the story, to prepare the way for Jesus, the Christ child. He came to prepare hearts and lives. He came to plant the seeds of forgiveness and grace. He came to make plans for renewal and restoration. He came to prepare the world for change. And that change is called Immanuel – God with us.
Advent is a time of preparation. It begins with a story about preparing for change. And it ends in a climactic moment of change – the coming of God into the world as a human to be with us. John’s preparation leads to Immanuel, God with us.
Wherever you are right now in your life, are you ready for the climatic moment of Christmas? Are you ready for Immanuel to change you? Or will you go through the motions like every year and miss out on the awesomeness of God coming to be with you?
The Christmas story begins with a message about preparing the way because preparation is key to embracing the change that God can make in your life. The question is: How will you prepare your self, your life, your mind, body and spirit for the birth of Christ into your life this Christmas?
Maybe, just maybe, you will find out this Christmas that with the right preparation change is the greatest gift of all…..and it is something that you can take with you all year long!
If you have not already picked up a copy of the Advent Study Guide for your family, they are available at the church, just outside the sanctuary.
This Week at Hood
Wednesday, December 6th, 3:30pm–Prayer & Inspiration
6:00 pm – Choir practice!
Thursday, December 7th, 1:00-3:00pm–Jason at the Cellar for Community Office hours (108 N. Wilson Ave.)
Saturday, December 9th–Lake & Lights: meet in the church parking @ 3:00pm to carpool to the Lashmits’ Lakehouse for a early chili dinner. We will leave the lakehouse @ 5:30pm to go over to Lu Mil Vineyard and explore their large light display. The cost for the lights is ($6 a person).
Sunday, December 10th, 11:00 am – Worship: God With Us.
12:oo noon–Choir lunch & rehearsal
December 17th–11:00am–Choir’s Musical presentation: God With Us; followed by church-wide Christmas lunch and visit from Saint Nicholas!
December 24th–11:00am–worship; 5:00pm–Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion
April 16, 2018
April 11, 2018
February 20, 2018