It is that time of year again! One song declares it the most wonderful time of the year — Christmas! And yet it can also be the most stressful time of the year.

I am sure that we all have many things to do before Christmas day actually arrives: Shopping, parties, decorating, Christmas cards, family gatherings, etc. Does this sound fun or does this already send you into a panic? There just seems like a lot of preparation and participation to make the most of this season.

The Church, God’s people, has for centuries encouraged people to prepare for Christmas as well. It has nothing to do with Black Friday, decorating, cooking, etc. Christ followers are encouraged to prepare for Christmas through a season called Advent. Advent is the spiritual/liturgical season starting the first Sunday after Thanksgiving and lasting up until Christmas Eve. Instead of buying gifts, Advent is a season to get ready for God’s gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be doing heart preparation as we seek the arrival of Jesus Christ.

I love the words to the Christmas hymn Joy to the World: “Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room.” I have always been a big fan of Christmas since I was a kid. I would pull out the Christmas music right after Thanksgiving, and put up lights in my room. I would love to listen to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Rudolph” at night while lying in my bed under the Christmas lights.

I loved watching my family make room for the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. I got excited watching presents stacking up under the tree. I would get fired up with the Christmas spirit, but I was honestly more into the commercial aspects of the holiday instead of focusing on the spiritual meaning and coming of Jesus.

When the light came down at New Years, I was often sad and felt as if something were missing.There was something missing in the middle of my celebration. I often missed Jesus. I had caught the holiday spirit but I missed the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where was the reality of Jesus? My conclusion was that I had not adequately made room in my heart for the person of Jesus Christ. My heart was so filled with the trivialness of Christmas that I found myself missing God’s Christmas gift to me.

Now wouldn’t you hate to miss out on a gift that was meant for you? How much worse to miss out on a gift from God? Realizing my mistake, I am learning to be more intentional about keeping Jesus Christ as the center of Christmas. I want to prepare for, look for, and seek for Jesus Christ in every aspect of the season.

Join me this season. Let every Christmas light remind you that Jesus Christ came to bring his light into the darkness of the world. As you make room for a tree, remember to make room in your heart. As you admire your decorated tree, remember that Christ hung on a tree for our sins. As you see the gifts, focus upon the gift of Jesus and open your heart to receive the gift of Jesus and His presence! As we wait for the big day to arrive, remember to continually wait for the return of Jesus to come again.

Advent means “coming” or “Arrival.” Jesus Christ came (arrived) 2000 years ago. He still wants to come fully into our lives with each passing day. And He will come again for His people to judge the living and the dead. He will take His people home with Him to heaven for all eternity. We make so many preparations for Christmas which comes and goes each year. I urge you to truly make room in your life and prepare for the work of Jesus in your life. Come Lord Jesus. Come. And that’s the Word.

The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.

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