A People Prepared2
by Lee Coleman
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:16-17
“Prepared.” I don’t know about you, but “prepared” is a state that always seems elusive around Christmas time. Is the guest room ready for those visiting relatives? Did we remember to get everything from the grocery? Do we need to run to Walmart on Christmas eve to get the batteries for that gift? Yikes! Of course, all of these last minute stresses (and plenty of others we’ll encounter over the holidays) can be easily managed with some timely planning that will ensure a smooth visit from the in-laws, that delicious Christmas meal, and a battery-charged present ready to be opened Christmas morning.
As we read in the first chapter of Luke, John the Baptist’s role was that of preparation. The Lord desired “a people prepared.” Can there be any more fitting description for what God desires for us here at Westminster? And what John the Baptist did for Israel, the Advent season can do for us. Don’t wait until Christmas Day to find your heart unprepared to experience anew the awe and wonder of the birth of Jesus. If the batteries and Christmas lunch require forethought and planning, how much more do our hearts need a season of spiritual preparation?
How can we become “a people prepared?” One way would be to grab your favorite Advent devotional resource and commit to following it over the coming weeks. Don’t have a favorite resource? Grab one of the Westminster Advent devotional booklets that have been available the past couple of years. Within this little book, written by members of WPC, you’ll find daily scriptures, confessions, and meditations to guide your Advent thoughts. As you prepare your heart and mind, concentrate on four main areas:
- First, we must meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. As John Piper says, “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.” Our hearts are lacking the key first step in preparation if we are not actively and desperately aware that we have no hope unless our Savior, the Messiah was born in that manger
- Second, we must examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and pray for the Lord to sanctify us so that by his grace, we may be a people prepared for holiness. As the Christmas classic “Joy to the World” reminds us: “let every heart prepare him room.” Preparing room sometimes means cleaning house! Psalm 139:23-24 reads, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” May this also be our prayer during Advent.
- Third, build Christmas anticipation and excitement in your home that is centered around Christ, especially as we interact with our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. If you are excited about Jesus, they will be too. If we can only make Christmas exciting with material things and talk more about gift lists than the miracle birth of our Savior, how will children get “the Christmas spirit” in a way that reaches far beyond Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Santa Claus?
- Fourth, make every effort and preparation to come to the worship services at Westminster throughout the month of December. Catch the excitement of your fellow Christians as we sing together of Christ’s coming. Be welcomed by the risen Jesus at his Communion table. And most of all, hear the word of God proclaimed. Jeremiah 23:29 reads “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” Let’s gather ‘round that fire this Advent season!
Merry Christmas, Westminster!