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First Sunday of Advent: Preparation

For years, I haven’t been excited about Christmas. Lights appear, parades happen, parties are thrown, food is eaten, but it’s just another year coming to an end. I go through the motions of the holiday though it doesn’t feel real. I don’t feel the excitement that everyone else does.

There are things about the season I like—the food and drinks that only come out once a year (eggnog lattes!) and the chance to get extended family together to catch up on the events of the past year.

What I miss, I guess, is that little-kid excitement. The way my younger brother used to lay on the ottoman in our living room, staring at the presents under the tree and dreaming of Christmas Day. The way a little kid might cross out all the squares on a calendar in the hopes that then he’ll wake up on Christmas morning. The way that we felt on Christmas Eve, waiting for Dad to get home from work so we could drive to Grandma’s place.

Maybe growing up means losing some of that wonder of Christmas. Lights are just lights. A Christmas tree means a big mess to clean up in January when the needles start falling all over the floor. Someone has to cook all that food we enjoy and then wash the dishes afterward. Getting family together means hours in the vehicle. And even the Christmas presents under the tree aren’t what you wanted them to be.

Or maybe, if even Grinches and Scrooges can get into the Christmas spirit, so can I.  This year has been different.

First Sunday of Advent|image of Christmas-themed dessertYesterday, I spent the day preparing for a dinner party to which I’d invited my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We went grocery shopping in the morning. Cleaned house in the afternoon. Pulled out all my Christmas decorations. Baked a ham and scalloped potatoes. Listened to my Christmas CDs. Rearranged the house to fit everyone around one table.

I was actually excited, not only about the party, but about the coming Advent season—about Christmas and everything it brings.

As I watched the clock to make sure the food was cooked on time and the house looked great before my guests arrived, I thought about the act of preparing for a big event.

In the Christmas story my family (sometimes) read before opening presents, Zachariah holds his newborn baby sons and prophesies about what John will do when he grows up: “You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way” (Luke 1:76 CEB).

God spent years preparing for that first Christmas—thousands of years, actually. From way back in Genesis, we can trace the path that lead to the stable in Bethlehem. Even before His Son was born, He prepared Mary’s parents to raise a godly daughter who would say “yes” to His request. He closed Elizabeth’s womb until it was the right time for her to conceive the prophet who would announce His Son’s arrival. He put a star in the sky to guide the Wise Men and did so much more to prepare the world He’d created for His one and only Son.First Sunday of Advent|image of Christmas ornaments on a bookcase

Advent is a season of preparation—four weeks before Christmas in which we prayerfully walk towards the stable in Bethlehem. This year, I’m excited about Advent, about using this season to teach Sunshine about Jesus’ birthday and about using this season to prepare my own heart for Jesus’ arrival.

And you know what?  I’m excited just to be excited.

How do you prepare for Christmas or keep your child-like sense of excitement through this season?

Check out the other posts in my Advent 2011 series:

First Sunday: Preparation

Second Sunday: Anticipation

Third Sunday: Rejuvenation

Fourth Sunday: Reconciliation 

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