What do you do to prepare for the coming of guests at Christmas?
Maybe you cook special foods and bake special deserts. Maybe you clean the house from top to bottom. Maybe you decorate the house with greenery, beautiful bows, and sparkling lights.
Often when we prepare for the coming of a guest, we clean up a special room for our visitor. I know I’m guilty of letting my guest room get cluttered when it’s not being used for a guest. Right now the bed is piled with miscellaneous items that end up there instead of being put up where they belong – photos, instruction manuals, files. Right now there is no way that I could invite a guest into that room. It’s too full of other stuff for there to be room for a guest. In order to invite a guest in, I would need to clean out the room. I would have to prepare – to get ready – to receive my guest.
In the third chapter of the gospel of Luke, we meet John the Baptist. John has been called by God to speak God’s word and to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. John travels throughout the region around the Jordan River, preaching, calling the people to repent – to turn their lives around – to turn from sin and to turn toward God. In other words he is telling them to clean out their lives of those things that separate them from God so that when God comes they will have room to invite him into their lives as their guest.
John’s call is for us also. Today we are in the midst of the season of Advent. The word “advent” means coming. During Advent, we prepare for the coming of Jesus. In order for us to receive Jesus at Christmas, we need to make room for him in our lives. If we don’t clean out our lives – if we don’t repent – there’s no room for Christ to come in.
It’s tempting for us to get distracted from this preparation with all the busyness of the secular Christmas season – the shopping, the social obligations, the expectations of others. But if we get distracted, we run the risk of missing the presence of Jesus when he comes into our midst.
But we can prepare. We can clean out our lives so that there is room for our Lord when he comes. We begin by repenting – by turning around. We begin by recognizing that there are things in our lives that separate us from God. We are called to turn away from these distractions and we are called to turn toward God. When we repent, we prepare for the coming of Jesus.
We also prepare through prayer. Through prayer we nourish our relationship with God by listening for God’s word in our lives. We turn to God and ask him to come into our lives. We ask him to lead us and show us his way of life. As we pray we prepare for the coming of Jesus
Sharing what we have with others is another way to prepare for the coming of Jesus. This is a time to give not just to those who are near and dear – but to share with those who are dear to the heart of God – those in need. There are many ways to share with those in need. You can make a contribution of money or food to the Fort Mill Care Center or another organization that helps in our community. These are the kinds of gifts that are truly gifts for Jesus on his birthday. When we share our possessions with others, we prepare for the coming of Jesus.
This Advent season as we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, we can make room for him in our lives. We can clean out the things that distract us. We can listen for his word in our lives. We can share our blessings with others. As we do we will find that we have made room in our lives – so that when Christmas comes we are ready to invite Jesus in to be the guest of honor in our lives.
The Rev. Sally Franklin is the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at 501 Pine St. She can be contacted at email@example.com .