Why We Must Prepare to Prepare for Advent

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Preparation matters. In fact, preparation may matter more than anything else. Abraham Lincoln once remarked that if he were given six hours to chop down a tree he would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe. Billy Graham once said if he found out he had three years left to live that he would spend two years preparing.

The Boy Scout motto—that motto of all mottoes—comes to a whopping total of two words: Be prepared.

Then there are the famous five P’s: prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Jesus prepared thirty years for what would be a three year ministry with his cousin John preparing the same length for only six months of service. It was John, echoing the voice of Isaiah, who said,

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
(Luke 3:4-6)

In the wisdom of the Great Tradition of the Church, our forerunners have marked out patterns and pathways designed to lead us deeper into the abiding ways of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These patterns present themselves to us as seasons wherein we focus our remembrance on the story of God and hence our imagination on the possibilities and particularities of the will of God for our lives, families and communities. These patterns originate with the creation of the world and God’s observance of a Sabbath and his command for us to do likewise. Later, God, by his Word, instructed us to mark time and develop a calendar according to his mighty deeds, and most centrally, the Passover. This practice has carried over into the New Testament Church who marks time according to Jesus Christ, “our Passover.”

Despite all the ways the great calendar of the church has been misunderstood and mindlessly observed through the centuries, it holds tremendous wisdom for the followers of Jesus to this very day. How? Our calendars reveal to us a reality so much more valuable than money that we actually consider it priceless: our time. How will we order our time? Will we order our time primarily around our own pursuits and priorities or will we order them around the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? It is one thing to claim this as our priority, but only our calendars will tell the truth of our lives.

“Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight paths for him.”

One of these seasons is upon us again in a few short days—the Season of Advent. This is the season of preparation for the comings of Jesus Christ. Given the magnitude of the second coming of Christ and the magnificence of his first coming, the people of God have for centuries set apart a season of time to wait upon the Lord, to pray and fast, and to consecrate our lives afresh to his purposes in the world. Our capacity for the fullness of the person and work of the Holy Spirit must be regularly stretched if we are to keep pace with Jesus in a world ever out of touch with him.

The call to action today is a simple one. Given the season of preparation before us, I want to call you into a few preliminary days of “preparing to prepare.” Let us ready ourselves for Advent, this season of preparation for the coming of the Lord, by refocusing our vision on the horizon of the coming Kingdom of God and re-fixing our gaze on our Lord, Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

To that end I want to invite you to join together with us and prepare to prepare. I have written a sequence of three short meditations designed to help us with this. I will gladly send those to you over the course of the next week should you like and register your interest here.

One more thing. I would like to invite you to join thousands of Christians throughout the world who are journeying through a short daily guide I authored with the help of a dozen Christian poets: Not Yet Christmas. It’s Time for Advent. We would be pleased to get that into your hands in time for a December 1 start should it please you to join us.

There is no time like now for the people of God to humble themselves in such ways that they might rise up into the glorious purposes of God in our time.

“Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight paths for him.”

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