When my children were growing up one of our Christmas traditions was to light a candle on our advent wreath every week. Each time we lit the flame it brought the foretaste of Christmas closer. But I longed to find something meaningful to read to them that readied their hearts to receive more than toys. I wanted their hearts to have a joyful anticipation of Jesus.
Now that my boys are grown I have just the thing to give them to read to their children. It’s by Lisa Appelo and it’s called Countdown to Christmas, The 15 Day Family Devotional. You’ll want a copy too. Lisa is sharing a taste of it right here today in …
Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas
By: Lisa Appelo
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
The mall clerk smiled as she asked the question and handed me the bulging bag. I shifted it to my crowded grip already holding several other bags. And as I thought about her question, I began mentally running down the list that seemed pinned to the forefront of my December thoughts.
A list full of presents needing to be bought and mailed; plays and parties to attend; meals to plan and goodies to bake.
So much to prepare and so much still to get ready.
Truth is, I’m one of those who takes the whole month to get ready. It’s not until we’re well into Thanksgiving leftovers that I begin to gather my kids’ Christmas lists and plan the annual Christmas card.
I love December for its beautiful fullness and the excited anticipation. It’s as if the whole world swells with collective expectancy in the countdown to Christmas.
But while checking off my to-do list might prepare my home for December 25th, it’s not what will prepare my heart for Christmas.
I think back to that first advent. For thousands of years, God had promised a Savior. Prophet after prophet had given precise details of His birth and the people waited with such hopeful anticipation.
But when the Savior was born, how many were really ready? In the bustling little village of Bethlehem, overwhelmed by census-travelers and census-takers, all but a few missed the sacred celebration of Jesus’ birth right in its midst.
Bethlehem didn’t even stir. Jerusalem never awakened. And Israel missed the long-anticipated birth of Jesus that night altogether.
Are you ready for Christmas?
That question gives me pause. In all the busyness of shopping and wrapping, baking and parties, have we missed preparing our hearts for Christmas?
December in its beautiful fullness holds the promise of checking everything off our list but missing the sacred celebration of Jesus’ birth.
I want to pause to wonder all over again.
Jesus, very God of very God, clothed in the vulnerability of a newborn; delivered by blood of the mother He came to deliver by blood; the One who holds together all matter Himself needing to be held.
I want to stop the rush to marvel at His love.
Jesus, the One and Only, sent to a world that overlooked His birth, refused His gift, despised His ministry and betrayed his friendship and He still chose the cross.
I want to take time this season to worship and adore.
Jesus, the I AM, the First and the Last, the only One worthy, the King of Kings who dwells in unapproachable light, wrapped in flesh and tucked into the hay of a cattle trough.
The tragedy for us is not that Bethlehem missed the sacred right in its midst; the tragedy is that we can miss Him too.
In a season where there’s so much to get ready, preparing our hearts for Christmas takes intention. We have to purposely carve out time to spend for His word and for worship.
Advent is not just a time of waiting but a time of coming to Jesus. Advent means to come.
And so, this advent, we come to Jesus — to remember again the awe of Emmanuel, God with us.
We come to Jesus — to rejoice anew that God has not left us to ourselves but sent a Savior who redeems.
And we come to Jesus — to respond in adoration and love with our whole hearts.
Lisa Appelo is an author and speaker, a widow and single mom to seven who loves to share the faithfulness of God. Her new book, Countdown to Christmas, is a 15-day family advent devotional that brings the real Christmas story to light in a new way with scripture and your Nativity. You can find more about the book here.