Prepare the Way

Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on


On a Black Friday long, long ago, my wife and I set out to find the perfect Christmas gift for our two and a half year old daughter.  We scanned the Thanksgiving Day paper to see what bargains would allow us to maximize our limited resources. Uninspired by the first stack of advertisements, our perseverance paid off when we found the perfect gift — a Playskool Play House.

The store opened at 5:00 a.m. We arrived by 4:45 a.m. and were unprepared for the crowd that had already assembled in front of the locked doors. Open! Open! Open! We prayed that televisions and not play houses were the reason for the gathered masses.

The doors opened and the crowd scattered. As fate (providence!?) would have it, we took the aisle that led directly to our treasure. Our prayers were answered! By the time we secured our box on the cart, the play houses were all claimed. It was 5:02. 

But, the adventure was just beginning. We did not anticipate a brutal winter front blowing through at the exact time we left the store. The temperatures dropped, the Oklahoma wind blew fiercely, the thunder answered the lightning, and the rain came in sheets.

We splashed across the parking lot with our shopping cart and oversized box.  The oversized nature of the box did not register with us until we arrived at the car, a two door Olds Calais. Frozen by the soaking rain and bitter wind, we looked at each other, realizing the nature of our new problem.

The rain did help with one problem: the box. We dismantled the soggy box, throwing each piece of the play house into the car.  Soaking, freezing, and laughing about our adventure, we were prepared for Christmas!

Black Friday shopping may be one of the ways you get ready for Christmas, but is shopping the extent of your Christmas preparation? Surely there is more! 

For Christians, Christmas is the hinge point of history. The Savior is born! He is called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” In Jesus Christ, God is present and redeeming our lives and our world in a new and different way.  Indeed, this is something worthy of our preparation! 

Certainly, Christmas preparation requires activity, but it also involves moments of rest and reflection. Christmas preparation teaches us to wait and to anticipate. And if we will do so, we will discover a deeper mystery. Christmas not only invites us to prepare for the birth of Jesus, but to live in the reality of that birth and the promise of His coming again. As such, we prepare for the Lord Jesus to be present in our lives each day. “Come Lord Jesus” is not just our hope for Christmas Day, it is our hope for today and tomorrow.

Advent is the season the church sets aside to prepare for Christmas. During this time we pause and reflect on the themes of Christmas:  hope, peace, joy, and love. Advent begins Sunday. I invite you to find a community of faith this Christmas season and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.

Our daughter loved that Playskool play house. It provided lots of fun and inspired her imagination. Twenty years later, I have no idea where that old play house is, but I am thankful for the trouble and preparation we made to give her that gift.

How much more important is it to prepare for the birth of Jesus, the gift that transforms today and shapes eternity? Christ is born! God is with us! The world will never be the same. Let us prepare the way...