This Sunday, November 27, is the beginning of Advent: a time of waiting and longing, a time of hoping and expecting, and a time of preparation.
What are we waiting and hoping for?
We are waiting for the coming – for “coming” is what “advent” means – of Jesus Christ.
The one who has come and the one who will come again. Just as Israel waited for the promised fulfillment of a new Messiah – one who would restore the throne and rule of David, so we wait for Jesus our Messiah King to come again.
The Messiah who fulfilled those promises to Israel is the same Messiah we wait for today. So as we wait in expectation for Jesus to return, we look back at God’s faithfulness – the Messiah has come, and we look forward in hope – the Messiah will come. God is faithful to finish what he started. Christ is coming!
When we know that a guest is coming over – particularly a special or important guest – we take time to prepare. To offer hospitality is actually a lot of work (particularly if it’s the in-laws :)): we take stock of what we need, we purge what we don’t need, we bring order to places of chaos, we clean things that are dirty.
Preparation is an essential part of welcoming.
This Advent season you are encouraged to take time to prepare. What places in your life are so cluttered that it is difficult to welcome Jesus? What places are in chaos that need to be re-ordered? What places are unclean that need to cleansed?
Those are hard questions. And let’s be honest – it’s easier not to think about them. To let the distractions of our clutter, chaos and mess drive us away from dealing with them. That kind of preparation seems impossibly overwhelming – we don’t have the time, energy or will to clean ourselves up. We’ve tried and failed so many times before.
Well, I have good news.
Unlike welcoming a guest into your home after you’ve prepared, welcoming Jesus means inviting him into the preparations themselves.
There is work to do, but you are not alone. In fact, you are not even in charge. For there is no true preparation for Jesus without the guidance and help of the Spirit of Jesus. All you need to do start preparing for this guest is to extend the invitation. It’s as simple as saying “Come, Lord Jesus.”
So as we approach this Advent season I invite you to extend the invitation. Invite Jesus to order your life so that his life may grow in you. And receive the grace(s) of His Spirit as you prepare your life to be a fitting home for the Lord Jesus.
That’s my prayer for all of us at Redemption this Advent season – that we would yield up our clutter, chaos and mess in exchange for his simplicity, his peace and his holiness.
Let’s encourage each other this Advent to prepare the way for the Lord, and to welcome our King.
P.S. – if the “church year” is new to you, or you wonder what the value is of observing time and seasons around the church’s calendar (instead of the secular cultural calendar – although notice that in the Western world it’s impossible to separate the two: Christmas and Easter remain the two largest holidays in the so-called secular calendar), then you might find this short blog post helpful.
Kim is better known as Karen’s husband, or Micah/Heidi/Amelia/Eliana’s dad, or the book guy. He enjoys all sorts of books, sci-fi movies, and is overly fond of superhero tv shows.