PREPARING FOR ADVENT
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”—Isaiah 40:3-5
Christmas hit Target about October 18. I was looking for a Halloween decoration, a crow to go with “Boneman,” the skeleton who graces our porch. But the Halloween shelves were nearly bare except for bags of candy for those who hadn’t stocked up for trick or treat (or who had stocked up but nibbled their way through them like Hansel and Gretel at the witch’s house!). Slowly creeping towards the Halloween shelves were the Christmas shelves, where ornaments and greenery were being stocked by the elves. At least the Musak system wasn’t playing carols yet! (By the time you read this, I expect we’ll be “Jingle Bell” rocking….)
This is probably the earliest Advent message I’ve written. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, so the First Sunday of Advent falls on November 28 this year, a day short of the earliest it can be. So, we have a good, long time to prepare ourselves for Christmas.
But maybe what we need is to prepare ourselves for Advent. Too often by the time Advent gets here, we are so into Christmas preparations (decorating, gift purchasing, cookie baking) that we forget to prepare our hearts for Christmas. We forget to prepare the way of the Lord.
This November, may we prepare to prepare! Maybe you could set aside a few minutes each day to read one of the lessons from one of the Sundays of Advent. There are 17:
First Sunday of Advent: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36 Second Sunday of Advent: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
Third Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:46b-55; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55
Then, when Advent finally arrives, maybe we will be prepared.