Matthew 3:1-3 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" (NIV)
The children were delighted! Behind every little window was a chocolate treat. Is Advent a time for feeding the children chocolate? Are we not supposed to see something else under those little windows as they open each day? I can just hear John the Baptist thundering, "Come! Prepare the way of the Lord. Here are some chocolates!"
As I meander down the grocery isle and see the chocolate Advent calendars, I worry. Under each window of my Advent calendar I want to read great promises of God, like: "Unto you is born this day a Saviour, Christ the Lord." For December 25th: "Emmanuel — God has come to dwell among us." A chocolate just won't cut it.
Advent means, "to come to". Who comes, and to whom? What are we actually receiving each day leading up to Christmas? The clash of cultures between the secular and the Christian sadly often means, for many, a headache! Oh! We must quit this restless rushing around and prepare to hear the angels sing.
Yes, Advent is a time to prepare, so again we wonder: preparing for whom, for what? Can we keep a child happy with a chocolate, just preparing for Santa and his gift-laden sleigh? Not for long, for the sugar will see to that!
As believers in Jesus' first coming to earth in Bethlehem many years ago, we prepare now each year, for a fresh indwelling of His presence. Let's make our own Advent calendars this year, with a reminder each day in December of how we will prepare for Jesus' coming. What we surely pray for is a closer, dearer walk with Jesus as He comes into our lives.
Suggestions for our Advent Calendar?
Dec. 3rd: Clean my heart — as well as my house.
Dec. 4th: Draw a child into Jesus' lap with a story from the Bible and a hug.
Dec. 5th: Play Christmas carols on the CD player and hum as I work.
Dec. 6th: Reach out to the boss with some joy.
And so on!
Prayer: Lord, we have crowded out the real meaning of Advent with chocolates and secular preparations. Show us how to make this December totally different, as we recapture the wonder of it all: Jesus actually is coming. Indeed He is here now! Lord, we let you in; we can't wait for Christmas. Come, Lord, and fill this day with your presence. Amen.