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  • Writer's pictureGWL

The Beginning




The Beginning

Mark 1:1-8


When someone asks you, “are ready for Christmas?”... what they’re really asking is… “Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?” Or... “have you put up your tree, set out the decorations?” That kinda thing, right?


Tammy is really good at getting on top of buying Christmas gifts early. All the gifts that she’s already purchased are wrapped… They’re under the trees… And yes I said trees. We have three trees, with lights.


Me!? Well, not so much. I haven’t personally bought a single gift yet. Nor have I wrapped any presents. Don’t judge! I still have 15 days! And I couldn’t possibly be the only one.


Of course, there’s so much to do, it makes sense to get ahead of it, if-and-when you can. Between the events, the services, the parties, the Christmas cards, the tree (or trees), the gifts… It can become overwhelming very fast, if you let it.


Then add in the fact, that life continues through the Holiday Season. Bills still have to be paid... work still has to be attended. And... for so many, it’s overwhelming before it even begins. So many people struggle this time of year… when it comes to grief, anxiety… social pressure. For many what some of us refer to as the “most wonderful Time of the year,” can be anything but wonderful.


So where do you and I begin? How do you and I truly prepare ourselves for Christmas? What should it mean for followers of Christ, when we ask, “are you ready for Christmas?”


John, as in John the Baptizer, was a voice crying out in the wilderness (the confusion and noise), “get ready... make way... the King is coming.”


It was John’s calling to prepare the way for Jesus. He implored people to get their lives straight, so Christ could enter their hearts... and many did... they listened. They came from all over to hear John preach, and they responded to his message. Tax collectors, thieves, the rich, the poor… many others confessed their sins and were baptized by John. They repented, promising to turn away from the ways of the world in preparation of the coming Messiah.


John even told the people… I baptized you with water, but the one who comes after me, is so much greater... He will baptize you with the power of God’s Holy Spirit.


So where do you and I begin in truly preparing ourselves for the Christmas season? Should it be in Decorations, Gifts, trees? Not that there’s anything bad or wrong with any of those things… But should that be where we start? I think that’s a legitimate question to ask!


You and I should prepare ourselves during this time of Advent, as we focus in, and listen to the voice, the Word, quietly whispering through the noise. It’s there. In the wilderness of modern life… in the noise of busy stores and malls, and the blinking Christmas lights… even in the crowd of scurrying shoppers... Even more so, the Voice is here, in the grief, and despair, and heartbreak of this world. A voice still cries out, “prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight his path.”


It always reminds me of the second verse of the carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Which is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. “Said the little lamb, to the shepherd boy, “Do you hear what I hear?” Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy. “Do you hear what I hear?” A song, a song, high above the trees, with a voice as big as the sea! With a voice as big as the sea!”


We should begin our preparation of Christmas by hearing the Good News, and remembering Whom we are celebrating. Not a little jolly elf, hopping from rooftop to rooftop dropping gifts down the chimney… But the Savior of the world, who’s gift is far greater, and more valuable, than any gift this world could possibly ever hope to give.


We prepare for his arrival in our hearts, once again, by repenting, by surrendering our will to his. Even if you came to faith in Christ decades ago… Advent gives us a wonderful opportunity to rededicate, ourselves in service to our Lord, in new ways.


Besides the obvious (being here, in church), how are you preparing to welcome Christ anew this year?


Are you praying for Christ to re-awaken your spirit? To revive and renew your faith? Are there broken relationships that need mending? Are there broken hearts that need comforting? Are there empty stomachs... lost souls...?


There’s plenty to do (besides putting up trees and singing Christmas carols).


It’s in doing the work of our Savior that we remember his birth best. It’s the beginning of having a Merry Christmas.


Amen.

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