Eyes overcome with tears, a lump forming in my throat, it is difficult to continue singing. Two angelic young voices sing once, then again, "Hurry the Lord is near!" Doing my best to keep it together, I continue singing, "Earth has longed for His approach ..."
And again, "Hurry the Lord is near!"
"Straighten the road, smooth the path..."
"Hurry the Lord is near!"
Visions of recent nightly family gatherings float through my mind. Advent rituals over the past week brought to life the need to prepare the way of the Lord, the longing for His coming, and the smoothing of the path to our hearts so we could fully and joyfully celebrate His birth.
And then - a baptism. The young lady's face glows with the love of God, even more than the light of the candle in her grasp.
And then - my heart leaps as the sight of a young man entering the sanctuary. He rarely, if ever, comes to worship, although we see him often at Sunday School. I am so glad he's here.
During the next hymn, my mind wanders. If my heart could feel so much joy at the sight of one young man joining in worship, or one child glowing in her new life in Christ, or in the sound of two young girls' radiant voices, what must have been the reactions of those receiving the news of Jesus' birth?
The pure joy and power of the birth require much preparation - or none at all.
All that is really needed is an open and ready heart - one open to the wonder and the glory of a humble birth. It's that simple. Some of us need to do a little housekeeping of the heart before that happens.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations going on around us - the shopping; the baking; the decorating; the buying; the wrapping, wrapping, wrapping of present after present - my family instead chooses to slow down and wrap ourselves in the wonder and the Word, in the love and peace of the Advent season. We prepare our hearts, we smooth the path, we keep vigil, we hurry up and wait - for the Lord is near!
Our Advent is centered in faith and family,
in worship and sacred stories,
in sharing our time and our love
and in anticipating the giving of the Greatest Gift.
So what are you waiting for? Smooth the road! Straighten the path! Hurry the Lord is near!