“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16–17)
What John the Baptist did for Israel: the season before Christmas can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared. I mean spiritually unprepared. Its joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready!
That you might be prepared . . .
First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. We know December 25 is unlikely the date of Christ birth, but this is the time we have set to celebrate the marvel of his coming.
Second, engage in sober self-examination.. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24). Let every heart prepare him room . . . by cleaning house. Spend time this month preparing for Christmas, not because it is some magical day, but because any excuse to do the hard work of examining our hearts should be taken.
Third, build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your life and home — especially for the children in your circle. If you are excited about Christ and it’s deeper truths, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will our family feel a thirst for God in this holiday craziness? Bend the efforts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for everyone in your life.
Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:29)! Gather ’round that fire this Christmas season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.
As the madness of this season truly comes upon us now my prayer for us is that we give ourselves the space to engage with the birth of Jesus, recognize the incredible reality that Jesus moved in to our neighborhood 2000+ years ago, changed everything, and now we longingly await his second coming.