"It is written in the prophet Isaiah: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way – a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:2-3
In the spirit of full transparency and disclosure, I must confess that I love Christmas. I start to get excited for Christmas on June 26. It is on that wonderful day that the coming Christmas is closer than the one that has passed. I love the lights. I love kid’s Christmas pageants. I love buying gifts. I love the food. I love watching old Christmas classics on TV. I love being with family and friends. I love seeing how others celebrate. I love seeing the inner Scrooge come out of some. I even love the chaos of going to the mall in the weeks before Christmas. Weird, I know. I love the preparations. This year at the Gray house, the Christmas decorations started going up during the last week of October.
Lest you think me to be shallow, I would like to point out that I believe all my excitement is rooted in the fact that Christmas gives Christians the opportunity to celebrate the fact that Jesus, our Savior, has come. I like to think that all my joy and all the preparations are a part of declaring the wonderful news that Jesus has come as the Savior for all.
There is another reason for joy in the Christmas season. Christmas reminds us that Jesus will come again someday. That day will come like a thief in the night (1 Thes. 5:2). His arrival will be unexpected and sudden. Jesus reminded us in the parables found in Matthew 25 that we would do well to prepare for his coming.
In centuries past, God sent his prophets to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. That preparation culminated in the arrival of John the Baptist, the one who Mark wrote was the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding preparations. We too have a role in preparing the way for the coming of Jesus, both in this advent season and in the grander flow of time. We must not only prepare to express our great joy at his coming two thousand years ago, we must also look forward with great expectation to his glorious and immanent return.
Jesus’ first coming has made it possible for us to be prepared for his second coming. Due to his presence, we can live holy lives expressing his purity by being faithful to his teachings and living according to his will. We can have great hope regardless of the circumstances that surround us. We can take heart and encourage one another that there is a great future before us. As he empowers us, we can diligently do the work that he has left for us to do.
In this season, as we celebrate the coming of Christ, let us also prepare for his ultimate return. Let the words of John be our reminder:
"And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame." 1 John 2:28