Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come, v. 1
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7 KJV)
Advent is a time of preparation, not according to the world’s priorities of shopping and selfishness, but rather a time to reflect on the arrival of the Promised Messiah. As a church we wish to take time to examine our hearts and lives in light of the reality that our King has come! We celebrate His birth and worship God for the wonder of the incarnation, that God became man, that the Word became flesh. Our Sunday worship services will focus our hearts and minds on the joy of those who see the LORD’s work and offer God exultant worship. The lighting of the Advent candles remind us visibly of Jesus, for as John wrote: “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9 NIV).
Knowing and celebrating that Jesus came to earth is important, but it is equally important to know and understand why He came. Our joy is not mere sentimentality for the birth of a baby long ago. Christmas for Christians must not be just an empty tradition, an easy excuse to overspend and overeat. But it will take more than an hour or two on Sunday mornings to resist the pull of the culture. Think of it this way: have you ever seen a kid walking up the down escalator? They can make it, you know. If they walk fast enough and don’t stop, they’ll reach the top. Suppose we think of ourselves (Christians) as trying to reach the top to rightly celebrate this Christmas season. The world around us is intent on moving in the opposite direction, caring nothing for the reality of the Messiah’s advent. If Sunday morning worship takes us up three steps or even seven unless we keep moving the rest of the week we’ll find ourselves back at the bottom by the next Sunday! Are you resisting the drag during the week with a focused time with God this December?
Advent is the perfect time to focus on the reality and significance of Christ’s coming to earth and to remember as well that He has promised to return! There are many wonderful Advent devotionals available and it is an especially good time to start family devotions if you have younger children. But I would like to offer some resources for adults. Roger Ellsworth is perhaps not an author you are familiar with, but his two books are delightful reading, pointing to Scriptures you might not normally associate with Christmas and painting beautiful word pictures to carry with you throughout the day; they are The 31 Days of Christmas and Christmas Pictures: Devotional Thoughts for Christmas. John Piper is a name you know, and he has a brand new little book out entitled The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. And finally one that was published last year which is at the top of the list to recommend: Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation by Joel Beeke and William Boekestein. They promised in the Preface and proved it as I finished reading it that, “learning the reasons for Christ’s advent will help us more deeply celebrate His birth, allow us to see more clearly how it is connected with the rest of His ministry, and help us understand its importance for our lives” (p. vii). Please consider utilizing one of these or another resource to keep your focus on Christ this Christmas.
I’d like to share a delicious Christmas tea recipe of Sue’s that we have enjoyed for many years. But to fully enjoy it after it has been made, you have to stir it because many of the good things have settled to the bottom. My prayer is that this Advent season your hearts are stirred up so that you fully taste God’s goodness in sending the indescribable gift of His Son to earth for our salvation.
Hot Spiced Tea
- 16 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 c. water
- 2 ½ c. sugar
- 1 – 12oz. can orange juice concentrate
- 1 – 12oz. can lemonade concentrate
- 12 c. weak tea
- Boil cloves and cinnamon in 4 c. water 5-10 min. Add more for a spicier taste. Strain and add the remaining ingredients.
- Yield 25-30 servings.