Prepare Ye

Advent is a time of waiting. For most of my adult life, it meant waiting in the checkout line of store after store as I gathered treasures of all shapes and sizes for my loved ones, maxing out my credit cards in the process. Waiting for the timer to beep indicating it was time to remove yet another batch of cookies from the oven topped my list as well. Mostly I waited for the "Christmas Spirit" to fill me like it did when I was a child.

Nowadays Advent is much more simple. Gone are the credit cards. Gone are the expectations of an array of cookies whose leftovers would last through Valentine's Day. Gone is the feeling of need to give lots of stuff to lots of people, whether they want it or not. 

Each morning we move Mary and Joseph closer to Bethlehem on our Advent Calendar. We listen to Christmas hymns with some holiday tunes mixed in as we move about our day. We do kind deeds for others and plunk those blessings in the form of coins into our Angel Jar in preparation for Christmas Day. 

We act as "Christmas Angles"  for the member of our family whose name we pulled from the hat on Thanksgiving night. We prepare a surprise. We plot, plan and shop (only $5!). We tinker, create and wrap. We are reminded how good it feels to prepare a gift from the heart. 

On Christmas Eve we gather with family and friends for good food and wonderful conversation. We go to worship to praise God for his Gift to us and to share the joy of the Birth with others. After dinner, we gather together to exchange our Christmas Angel gifts and share in the joy of gifts that feed our souls.
Alia's Christmas Angel last year was Alexander, who made her a cloak. 

On Christmas Day we get to count the money in our Angel Jar and pay our good deeds  forward through a donation to a charitable organization or two. After all, it's Jesus' birthday, and everything we have, we have by the grace of God, who gave us the greatest Gift - the Gift of a father's love for all his children. The Gift we should pass on to the rest of God's children, especially those most in need.

That Christmas Spirit I mentioned before?  It wasn't at the mall or on the radio.  I never found it amongst the boxes and bows. It wasn't in the colored sugars or even in the giving of things to family and friends. It turns out it was in my heart the entire time - not in the giving to others, but the loving of others and doing for others, as God loves and does for us.  'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,  you did it to me.' Matthew 25:40

This Christmas, I encourage you to give a gift of Love. Do something nice for someone. In the mood to shop? Support a local craftsperson or artist ... or buy and donate food to a food pantry ... or browse these catalogs for some wonderful ways to improve people's lives: Lutheran World Relief , Mennonite Central CommitteeSamaritan's Purse , Camp Calumet, or Harvest of Hope. And if you want to get me something for Christmas, world peace would be a good start...


  1. Once again, dear friend, your words touch my heart. Thank you for being God's voice in my ear.


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