Source: Sherman Publications

Spiritual Matters
Getting ready for Christmas

December 12, 2012

Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Can’t you hear it in the voices of children and feel the excitement in the air?

Wait a minute. It’s not Christmas yet.

We have so commercialized and secularized Christmas that, by the time it arrives, we are ready to pack away the gifts, take down the tree, put away the decorations and get back to life as normal instead of celebrating the 12 days.

Is that how it should be? It takes time and preparation to be ready to celebrate properly.

Would we marry someone the day we met them? We need to get to know them and spend time getting ready for the big day. Would we build a house for our child to grow up in the day they were born? So, also, we need to prepare, get ready, to celebrate Christmas.

That is what Advent is all about.

Like someone getting ready to welcome a baby into their home, so we prepare to welcome Jesus into our home and into our world at the second advent, the second coming. St. Paul tells us about how the timing for the first coming of Jesus was perfect.

In Galatians 4 he writes, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law.”

What fullness of time? God’s time in His plan. Why did He send His Son? To redeem us, to buy us back from the debt of sin that we could never have paid.

But it took planning and preparation. In Genesis 3:15, “God promises to Adam and Eve that He would send a Savior Who would crush the head of the serpent, Satan.” The people waited and planned for this fulfillment for hundreds and hundreds of years. The Old Testament prophets spoke of Him.

Then, in Luke 1 the priest Zechariah is told that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son. They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, unable to have any children and both of them were advanced in age. But it happens just as the angel says. “This child is to be the forerunner, the one to announce the way and prepare the world for the coming King.”

We read later in Luke 1 that Mary, a young virgin woman was told by an angel that she, too, would bear a child. This Child would be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her betrothed (like our engagement but more seriously understood), thought she was unfaithful until he was assured by an angel that this was not the case.

Wow! That is a lot of angels and a lot of preparing! God did not mind at all. He was preparing for more than His Son’s birth. He was preparing for your forgiveness. He was sharing His love with you. He wants you to be in heaven with Him!

So, Christmas may have to wait, just a little, while we prepare. Happy Advent!

The Rev. Kendall Schaeffer is pastor of St. Trinity Lutheran Church.