Well, it’s hardly a winter wonderland here… but it did snow yesterday. Wet, fat, fluffy flakes floated down for a couple of hours here in Wake Forest. But the roads were warm, the temperature never dropped below 33-degrees, and nothing actually stuck when it landed.
To be honest, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. The romance and beauty of a snowfall, but without compromised roads and canceled church Sunday morning. It looked so lovely coming down, so I grabbed a few photographs and wished the wintery precipitation on its way!
So, snow or no snow, it’s the second Sunday in Advent. That means “Peace.” Or, as Rebekah has reframed her sermon series coming into Christmas, “Preparation.”
Prepare, according to the dictionary, means, “To make (someone or something) ready for some activity, purpose, use, etc. : to make yourself ready for something that you will be doing, something that you expect to happen.”
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.” – Matthew 3:1-3
Preparation is the perfect word for Advent. Christmas begins just fifteen days from now, and the way we respond to the unprecedented promise of such a gift is going to have a lot to do with how we prepare.
The definition of prepare begs the question, “What exactly do we expect to happen?” If we’re honest, most of us would have to admit that what we expect is a day off, some great food, generosity between family and friends, and a good nap in the afternoon. That and – of course – some hyper levels of excitement from the grandchildren when it comes to the gifts.
But listen to this:
- Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
- Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Wow! Thanks, Charles Wesley. Just let that sink in. “From our fears and sins release us. Let us find our rest in thee.”
You know something? If we prepare our hearts, and if we expect to find freedom this Christmas – because of Jesus; if we look for release from fear; if we are willing to accept release from sin, then that is exactly what we are going to receive Christmas morning.
What a gift! What a day that would be.
(Here are a few snow-ish photos from around Maul-Hall)