The countdown is on. Lift off of Christmas Day is almost here. Are you prepared? We emphasize preparation for Christmas mostly by counting down the number of shopping days and making sure the purchasing, decorating, wrapping, cleaning and cooking is done. Our stress at Christmas is, I believe, directly related to how much off target we are in our focus about the season. Get our focus on the wrong things and the stress level goes up. Get our focus on the right thing and stress can actually go down.
A character connected to Christmas but not present in any nativity set I have ever seen is John the Baptist. He was the Way Maker. He cried, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” I have been thinking more than usual this year about spiritual preparation for Christmas. With all the traditions and hassles of the season, how do we get ready to worship God and see the significance of what he has done in our world? Here are some suggestions about getting ready for Christmas.
· Spend time in God’s Word. Read the familiar stories of Christmas in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Notice the differences between the two. Sort out what Christmas traditions we have that perhaps go beyond what the Scripture actually says. Read other passages like John 1 and Philippians 2:1-11, and Isaiah 9-10.
· Check the time lines of Jesus’ pre-existence, birth and early life in these passages and you will see God at work. When you see God at work, you will be drawn closer to Him, a sure prescription for getting ready for Christmas. Reading Scripture will take you from an earthly perspective of the season to a heavenly perspective. Looking through God’s perspective will help you really get ready for Christmas.
· Seek God at Christmas. As you read Scripture, look for the God of the Scripture. Could anything be more important than meeting God at Christmas? Could anything make Christmas more meaningful? As you spend time in prayer, ask God to make Him known to you.
· Help someone else learn the significance of Christmas. The person who teaches is the person who learns. As you share the blessings of God’s sending of His Son, you will help someone else and help yourself. It is always that way.
· Bow before Jesus and give all of yourself that you know to all of Him that you know. Then humble yourself before Him in worship and obedience.
· Give an extra gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions. About four billion people in our world are missing Jesus and don’t even know what they are missing. This offering will make it possible for more to hear the Gospel.
Now, you will be more ready to have a blessed and holy Christmas!
Stewart B. Simms, Jr.