by Rev. Monique McBride, FUMC Ft. Lauderdale, FL
First, Read Mark chapter 1
“Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for Him.” We read these words in Mark 1 and learn about the story and role of John the Baptist -- the cousin of Jesus. John, a strange man of the wilderness with his odd diet and clothes, points the way to Jesus for those around him. Preaching repentance and forgiveness, John prepares the people for Jesus to come. He prepares them to experience love in the most amazing of ways.
The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Preparing our hearts and our minds is exactly what the season of Advent is all about. So, how do you prepare for this season? How do you make your “path straight?” How do you prepare a straight path for your family, your friends and your neighbors? How do others make a straight path for you?
Most of us prepare for the coming of Christmas by decorating the inside of our homes. We get out boxes marked, “Christmas Decorations.” We begin untangling and testing strings of twinkling lights. We carefully unwrap funky family ornaments and beloved Nativity scenes. We have that special spot for that special decoration given to us by that special person. Slowly, our homes begin to take on the memories of Christmases gone by. Whether bright and colorful or bathed in white or gold, our homes take on a look and feel as we prepare for Christmas. We begin on the inside- the place most special to us and sacred to our families. It’s the place that makes us, “us.”
As we prepare the inside of our homes, we must also be mindful we’re preparing the inside of our minds and our hearts. If we begin the season with a mindset of clutter, our minds can also become cluttered with the many distractions this time of year brings. If we start out overwhelmed with all there is to do at Christmas, we miss out on the opportunities for celebration and contemplation.
Think about your home at Christmas. Is the birth of Christ prominently displayed? Is a path “made straight” to the Lord? Or, are the bags of soon-to-be gifts taking over? As you prepare your home, do so with intention. As it says in Mark 1, “Prepare your heart for the Lord.” Let the inside your home reflect the inside of your heart. Surround yourself with loved ones and memories. Most importantly, prepare a place for Christ at the center.
God of our Heart, help us to prepare a place for you. As we embark upon this journey of Advent, surround us with your grace and remind us to keep our love for you and for one another at the center of our homes and our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Today’s scripture is all about preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. With that in mind, today is the day to prepare the inside of your home for Christmas.
Though you might not get it all done today, begin with a few special decorations which will help to set the tone for your Advent season and put Jesus at the center of all the celebration and festivities. Perhaps you have a Nativity or family ornaments you could put out today in a special place. Before you tear into the decoration boxes and fire up the Nat King Cole Christmas album, begin with a time of prayer and reflection with your children upon this scripture and the tradition of decorating our homes for Christmas.
We decorate for Christmas to put us “in the mood” for the season. As you prepare your heart and your home, be sure to do so with joy and intentionality for this sacred season. Remind yourself and your family that decorating for Christmas is not an item on the to-do list. Rather, it is a special way to prepare the inside of our homes and the inside of our hearts for the birth of Jesus.
What else can we do to prepare our hearts for Jesus?