Today is December 23rd. The day before Christmas Eve.
Even though it doesn’t feel like Christmas here in Germany because we’ve had spring-like weather for weeks, Christmas is still coming! Maybe that fact fills you with joy and anticipation, as you eagerly await celebrations, gatherings with family, gift exchanges and church services. But maybe the reality of Christmas approaching fills you instead with mourning, as you realize that things won’t be the same this year after losing a loved one or walking through tough trials the last 12 months. Or perhaps the thought of Christmas makes you panic as you look at your long list of things still to be done: wrapping gifts, buying groceries, sending cards, preparing for guests.
For me, it’s a mixture. Part of me longs for the familiarness of snow and to be overseas celebrating with the rest of my family, but at the same time I am glad I don’t have to travel now, considering I am 8 months pregnant. I am thankful to have other family and friends here and look forward to hosting them, even though that means extra work.
In the midst of busy preparations, I have tried to keep “The Reason for the Season” at the forefront of my mind, and as the focal point in our family and home. To be honest, though, my attempts haven’t been all that successful.
My husband and I made it through less than half of our Advent devotional readings. The Christmas tree bulbs that I painted with the Names of God have turned into “balls” for our 17-month old, and have thus been mostly taken down. And an evening I planned to be a fun time of wrapping gifts, eating Christmas cookies and drinking German “Punsch” while listening to Christmas music in the background turned into us chasing our wound up little guy around the house until midnight since he didn’t want to sleep.
One line of a popular Christmas carol which will be sung by thousands this season says, “Let every heart prepare Him room…” Lately I have been asking myself how I can prepare HIM room when there are other, seemingly more pressing needs waiting for my attention.
How can I be a “Mary” in my heart when I am needed as a “Martha” at home?
There are guest beds to prepare, meals to plan, diapers to change and neighbours to visit. And these are not unimportant preparations.
I decided to do a simple online search for the word “prepare” in the Bible, and made an interesting discovery. I came across more verses talking about GOD having something prepared for US, than us preparing something for God!
And that’s when it hit me.
God wants to give to us this season. We get to be on the receiving end.
Yes, decorations are nice and presents are fun and food is, well, necessary…but what if this Christmas wasn’t about trying to make some room for God in our already full calendars and homes? What if, instead, it was about participating in what HE HAS PLANNED FOR US?
The only truly significant Christmas preparations were taken care of 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born as a baby. God demonstrated that He is a GIVING GOD. And friends, this hasn’t changed! He still wants to give to us today – to give of Himself in new ways. He is Immanuel – GOD WITH US. And He longs to be with us in the hustle and bustle of this season.
How is that possible? He invites us to join what He has already done the work of preparing. Take a look:
- Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies….” Right in the middle of your biggest battle is where God invites you to sit and enjoy fellowship with Him. Maybe it is a family crisis, maybe a health scare. God is there and wants to dine with you. He will meet your needs.
- John 14:2-3 – “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” Jesus is preparing an eternal dwelling place for us. The hope of heaven overshadows any pain or struggle that we may be walking through in this season. And until He takes us to be with Him there, we have His Spirit, the Comforter, to be with us.
- 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him….” The birth of Jesus Christ demonstrated the goodness of God, and how far He was willing to go to show us His love and offer forgiveness. He has other good things prepared for us, things unimaginable to us. Let us come to Him as His children, expecting glimpses of those graces this Christmas.
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Not only does He have good things prepared for US; He wants to use us to be a blessing to others this season. What good works has God prepared for you to do this Christmas? Ask Him! Maybe it is a tough but necessary conversation with a family member. Perhaps visiting a neighbour or inviting over a refugee. Maybe it’s as simple as spending extra time with our kids or surprising our spouse in some way.
Friends, let’s not forget that this season is not about failed traditions or unfulfilled wishes. It is about HIM. Let’s pay attention to what God wants to give us of Himself this Christmas, and how we can join Him in His preparations.
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