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In the weeks (or months, or days, depending on your personality) leading up to Christmas, a whole lot of preparing goes on. Listing and planning, shopping and wrapping, cooking and baking, inviting and being invited... all for the sake of a single day. A day which, by the time we finally reach it, we just want to get it over with so we can stop trying to keep people out of the closet where the gifts are hidden, get rid of the tree that's been shedding needles all over the carpet, and finally turn on the radio and hear normal music.
A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God." [Isaiah 40:3] That's a verse I've heard many times, especially around Christmas. I never really thought about it much, and when I did, it sort of puzzled me. Why does the way of the Lord need to be prepared? I mean, He can descend from the clouds in a chariot of fire, so why on earth would we need to level mountains in order to make a road for Him?
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" [Matthew 21:8-9] But this year, working through an Advent week devoted to preparation and waiting, it finally clicked: it's not for His sake, it's for ours. We are the faithless and forgetful, caught up in our own little kingdoms, and the continual actions of preparation while we wait are what make our hearts ready to receive Him.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (or the first 24 days of December, again, depending on your personality) is a gift - an opportunity to clean out our hearts while we're cleaning our homes, and to prepare to receive anew the most important Guest of all.
How can you make time to prepare, not just physically, but spiritually, in such a way that Christmas has a positive impact on your life beyond the 25th of December?