Getting ready for Christmas

Dr. Roy De Brand, Professor of Homiletics Emeritus, Campbell University Divinity School
Dec. 06, 2013 @ 07:06 PM

The story is told of a man desperately running to catch a commuter train only to have it pull out just ahead of him. As he returns breathlessly to the station platform he complains to an onlooker, “I didn’t run fast enough.” To this the observer replies, “No, you just didn’t start soon enough!”

The Advent season enables us to get a proper start on finding the full meaning of Christmas. Nothing worth doing happens without preparation. A truly memorable celebration of Christmas demands some getting ready. We have to start soon enough.

Getting ready for Christmas involves personal preparation. I don’t mean just the hassle of buying and wrapping gifts, gathering groceries for Christmas dinner and trimming the tree. There should be personal spiritual preparation as well. Penitence is called for, as is building of a sense of expectation through prayer, searching the scriptures and attending or participating in worship services and other spiritual disciplines that will get us in a receptive mood for a true and deep experience of celebrating Christ’s coming.

Getting ready for Christmas also involves settling any relational problems we may have. We need to shuck off any grudges we bear, hurt feelings we nurture, personality conflicts that fester and any other relational encumbrances. We may need to seek forgiveness for harsh words we’ve spoken, or unkind acts we’ve perpetuated. If we’re to find the peace of God at Christmas, we should seek to live as people of good will toward others, beginning now and all the time.

Sharing with others less fortunate is also good preparation for celebrating Christmas. A special and significant contribution to your church or some charity, a basket of food to a family in need, a note of appreciation or thanks, a phone call expressing gratitude to someone, a word of encouragement or visit to a lonely person, or some other random act of kindness will go a long way in preparing us for Christmas. Opening ourselves to others opens us up to God. It’s a good way to get ready for Christmas.

Christmas is a celebration of God’s love to humanity. Remember John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (NRSV). Now that is a Christmas gift!

Celebrating God’s-love-come-down demands preparation and forethought. Don’t miss the blessings of the season because you fail to start soon enough. Advent has begun. Use the season to prepare yourself relationally and spiritually. You’ll be richer for it, and Christmas will have more meaning if you do.

Let’s get ready for Christmas!