“Prepare the way of the Lord” is the title of the production that I direct every year. As the producer, I am responsible for the props, costumes, food and the performers. Even though preparations are made throughout the year, the show opens and closes in just one day – December 25th.
As the mother of five children, Christmas day is not my most successful day. Pressures, emotions and very high expectations dominate what should be a day of joy, reverence and gratitude. One of my lowest moments of mothering was on December 24th one year. Arriving at our church barely in time for my children to be dressed as angels and camels, I sat in the pew weeping. A young woman came up to me and told me that she was touched by my deep spiritual sensitivity. That couldn’t have been further from the truth! I was crying because I knew that I was the worst mother in the world. Before leaving the house with the children dressed in their matching Christmas clothes, I had a complete meltdown. I forced them into the car and chased them into the church.
Is this the way that we are supposed to celebrate the greatest gift ever given in the history of humanity?
God set the stage for the coming of His Son! He revealed His plan to many people over hundreds of years to prepare His people for their Savior. Did you know that in the Old Testament, over 400 Scriptures describe in detail the life of Jesus Christ? We should be prepared for Christmas! Decorating, shopping, gift giving are not the most important preparations we make.
Advent is the season of preparation. A key element of Advent is the light of Christ. In many church traditions, the weeks before Christmas incorporate the use of an Advent wreath, both in the church and in people’s homes.
The Advent wreath includes five candles. On the first week, one candle is lit. The next week- two candles are lit and the weekly lighting continues until the last Sunday before Christmas. The progression of the lighting of the candles depicts the progression of the light of Christ as He penetrated the darkness of this world. The gradual increase of the light reminds us of the gradual increase of sunlight at dawn.
Advent has become the most important part of my family’s Christmas preparations. In these weeks, we gather daily and learn about the faithful promises of God. Over the centuries, God spoke His word and has been faithful to fulfill it. The Advent readings reflect on God’s promises to send His Son. Such as in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel’” (NIV). “Immanuel” means “God with us!” He has also promised to return to the world again as the “…KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16, NIV).
Often on the day after Christmas I wonder what went right and what went wrong. If I spend time preparing during the Advent season for the coming of Christ at Christmas, the chaos of Christmas preparation becomes a peaceful radiance of Christ’s presence in our lives. This is the greatest gift that I receive each Christmas.