I don’t like the panic that finds easy entrance into our world at Christmas. The stressed-out shoppers looking for bargains and finding none. The sleep-deprived children who masquerade as someone else’s kids. The tables of food that tempt us with excesses we know we will pay for dearly.
Perhaps it’s time to think with more than our emotional longings for some illusive vision we have about Christmas. Perhaps it’s time to start with our heart before we add one glittering ornament or ribboned wreath.
We need to take a journey of the heart. We must remind ourselves of the meaning and the message if we want our Christmas to rise above the cacophony and chaos of our culture. It doesn’t just mean simplify; it means to determine that everything you do, every way you decorate, every gift you buy, every carol you sing takes you to Jesus and the reason He came.
Isaiah is a good place to start. Nothing Christmassy about his desert place. Or is there? Maybe his politically unstable time uncomfortably matches what so many feel today. Isaiah brought warnings and reminders and invitations. He was pleading with his people to clean out the clutter that would not help them be ready for Messiah.
Not a bad message for today. Read it as if he was placing a non-partisan ad on TV. Listen to the passion of one who knows that more emptiness and confusion waits for those who don’t acknowledge his invitation. Hear it as it comes all the way from the heart of God through Isaiah to us today.
Get ready. Prepare the way for God to come. Make the path straight and clear. Let nothing distract you from seeing the heart of God through Jesus. (Isaiah 40:3, my paraphrase)
There are two ways I like to start decorating my home for Christmas. The first is
place our Advent candles at the center of our daily meal table. We set aside time to light the candle of the week and read from this devotional guide in the morning and
from another Advent collection in the evening. The second is to set up our nativity scene. This year I’m thinking of starting with the empty stable to remind myself how God decorated the first Christmas. Positioning these two pieces first, sets my priority for everything else.
Isaiah’s call to get ready involves being intentional about everything. If it adds stress, distracts, or compromises your budget; rethink it. The reason for the season is Jesus. It’s not just a clever slogan. It’s our mission. It’s our message. Unless you are preparing the way for Jesus to speak and work in your life and home, you are not getting ready for Christmas!