Growing up in a southern home, there were a few certainties in life that I could count on: “Y’all” would be a frequent part of our vocabulary, potlucks would take place at least once a month, and Silent Night would be sung during the candlelight service at Christmas time. I remember everyone holding those same white candles as the flame was passed down the aisle; that soft, amber glow providing enough light for all to see. There was something hauntingly beautiful about it, and it was markedly different from other carols we would sing like, “Joy to the World” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. They were good and beautiful reminders of the most important arrival in the history of the world, and they still are!
But so often, I feel so unprepared for Christmas. Distractions abound. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is competing for my attention. Life doesn’t stop. And when I lift my head up, it’s Christmas Eve. The next day comes, presents are exchanged, meals are shared, and time is spent with families. While that’s all fine and good, that falls woefully short of the celebration that’s fit for the angelic announcement in Luke’s Christmas story: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
But what does it look like to prepare well for Christmas? Isaac Watts said it well in his song, “Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room…”
So, have you begun to prepare Him room?
Or will we be so occupied with other things that, much like the inn that had no vacancy the night that Jesus was born (Luke 2:7), we’ll declare that there is no vacancy for the Lord in our own hearts?
That is what the Advent season is for. The Word became flesh so that the Word could become sin for us condemned sinners, and die for us that we might be made righteous in him. That’s the secret of Advent! It’s the culmination of God’s promise to His people. Centuries upon centuries of people’s expectation of the coming Messiah are all fulfilled in Jesus’s birth. It was the earthly beginnings of God’s in-person rescue of his people from sin, suffering, destruction, and death.
Let’s not let this Advent season pass us by. Let’s not let the earth-shattering reality that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) pass us by. That same baby that was born in a manger would eventually bear the sins of His people on the cross. That is what helps us prepare and focus during this Advent season. The manger is for all sinners because the cross is for all sinners.
So, when we think of Christmas, would the rest of the words from Isaac Watts song ring true, “Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.”