Do you recognize the emblems in the pictures? They represent the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I proudly wore the uniform of the Brownies and Girl Scouts and remember each week reciting the motto, “Be prepared.” The 1947 Girl Scout handbook put it this way, “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.” We learned all sorts of skills to help us to be prepared for whatever situation we were in.
This week marks a special time in the life of the church as we begin the Advent season. Advent is another way of saying, “Be prepared.” We begin sort of a countdown to Christmas. That countdown began for me weeks ago. I’m preparing my house for a Christmas Tour of Homes so I’ve been a busy elf readying the house for visitors. I’ve brought out the trees, ornaments, lights, and household decorations, all in cranberry, gold, and green, in order to create a festive atmosphere in my home. It’s pretty exhausting getting prepared for an event, isn’t it!
And there’s the shopping and cooking I do to prepare for Christmas celebrations. I have begun the gift buying for family and friends. Even with online purchasing such a convenience, there’s still a lot of thought and planning that goes into my purchases. Oh, and all the food preparations. I need to consider the perfect cookies to make for the annual cookie swap with the moms’ group I lead. And Christmas dinner for the family is at my house, so I need to make sure I’m prepared with plenty of food and just the right table decorations.
Oh, yes, I’m getting prepared for a Christmas filled with festive decorations, beautifully wrapped presents, and scrumptious food. But…isn’t there much more preparation that needs to be done? I really need to prepare my heart for Jesus. The Advent season is the time to commemorate the First Coming of Christ and to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus promised that he would return to earth and that we must watch and be prepared for his coming. We know when Christmas happens each year, but we do not know when Christ will return. How do we prepare? We need to busy ourselves doing the things he taught us by living out of twofold biblical purpose: Glorify God and edify others. When we remember to show our love for God and one another, we are preparing the greatest event we Christians will experience – the return of our Savior to the earth.
So…during the Advent season I will take time to experience the real joy of Christmas. I’m going to focus each week of the season on one of four words that help me to experience a prayerful Advent.
Week 1: Expectancy - looking forward to Jesus’ coming with excitement and hope
Week 2: Preparation – taking time to prepare my heart for the Christmas season by spending time daily in prayer and meditation
Week 3: Faith – examining where I am in my spiritual journey and determining where I need to be
Week 4: Promise – reflecting on the promises of God to be with me always and making promises of my own to God
“My soul finds rest in God alone; My salvation comes from God.”