Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Getting Ready for Christmas

We've made the grocery and menu list, prepared the tree, cleaned out the closets, and pulled out the dishes for entertaining.  I even made my bed.  These rare occurrences can only mean one thing--some very important people are coming over.  This year, our house is the hosting place for my family's Christmas get-together. 

There is one word that best describes Christmas for me (and many others) this year--PREPARATION.  In most cases, we spend more time planning and working toward an event than we spend during the event itself.  It made me think about the way biblical characters prepared for big event that now millions of people celebrate.  How did Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the shepherds, and the wise men prepare for the coming of what was promised?  How did they make their hearts ready for the coming of the King?

Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, was told in her later years that she would have a son.  Her child would not be ordinary, but a man who would literally PREPARE the way for Jesus, by teaching people to turn from their own ways and thoughts and turn toward Him.  When Elizabeth heard the news, she did something I would never think to do--she secluded herself.  She spent 5 months alone, praying and worshipping God, and thanking Him for what He had done.

Not long after young Mary found out she was pregnant with God, she traveled to her older cousin's house.  Mary and Elizabeth spent three months of fellowship together.    They prepared for the miracles of their lives by enjoying each other's company, talking about the days to come.

When Joseph heard from God what He was suppose to do, he took care of Mary.  Joseph prepared for his son in a way that I would never see as an act of celebration--he abstained from sexual relations with his own wife.  He and Mary then obeyed the laws of the land by traveling to Bethlehem because the government required them to register for a census.  The couple didn't get to spend much time on a nursery, for the baby came on His own time, in His own place, and was laid in a feeding trough prepared for animals.

The shepherds were merely doing their jobs.  They were taking care of their earthly responsibilities and then quickly and hastily, ran to meet the baby as soon as they were told by the angels. The shepherds carried no earthly goods on them, which is in stark contrast to the wise men.  With love and admiration, the wise men brought gifts--costly gifts and laid them before the young King.

As I look at the lives of these ordinary people in Scripture, I am encouraged that their preparation looks different from each other.  Some prayed, spent much time alone, spent concentrated time together, some traveled, some talked, some abstained from their rights, some worked, some were good citizens, some brought words of truth, and some brought elaborate gifts. God designed His people to function beautifully--we all play different roles.  We work together by working differently--each one taking care of his own part. 

I hope that no matter what your preparations look like this Christmas, they are done out of love for the Savior and the people He created.  Our preparations are only worthwhile when we are obeying the Words of the Father, and enjoying our niche in the kingdom.