Christmas is fast approaching; the simple thought can stir up anxiety from considering all the tasks involved in preparing for this major holiday. December can be one big headache if we let preparations overwhelm us.
The Lord knows the motives of our hearts in preparing for Christmas.
How are you preparing your heart this Advent season? Here are some suggestions:
Offer praise and adoration to the Lord. Praise Him for the wondrous plan of salvation through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Be in awe of the wonder of Emmanuel, the “with us” God. Embrace God’s love for you.
Seek the Lord in prayer. Ask Him how to quiet your heart in the busyness of life by praying over the December calendar. By creating a week by week overview of what needs to be accomplished, you will have a plan for preparations. Breathe deeply of His grace.
Draw near to God through personal moments of reflection. Confess any hard feelings, attitudes or sinful actions, releasing them to the Lord in exchange for His peace and freedom. At the end of the book of Job, he rose above the situation and prayed for those who chided and criticized him. God blessed Job’s life in the end.
What if we didn’t consider our activity not as tasks, but as moments of service to the Lord and others?
Any preparation done in love makes a difference in the end result.
For instance, decorating can be simple, creating a cheerful home without tinsel and twinkling lights in every corner of the house. I enjoy decorating but admit I stress about it. This year I’m simplifying by not getting every decoration out of the box, but choosing a few to spread around the house. The result? I am less stressed and can enjoy the process while listening to Christmas praise music.
Serve the Lord through expressions of the heart.
This year I want to approach my service with a joyful heart. I regularly play keyboard in church. If I’m sharing a song, I pray that it reflects the love of Lord. If I’m taking a meal, I hope it eases someone’s busy schedule.
The focus of serving is not on ourselves, but on being the hands and feet of the Lord who came to earth to love all of us. Be open to seeing the needs of others. Sometimes this means changing plans to help at a food pantry, visiting a friend recovering from surgery, or offering child care to allow someone else to prepare for Christmas.
John the Baptist proclaimed the words of Isaiah when he spoke of the coming of Jesus:
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him. (Isaiah 40:3 NIV)
Perhaps we can apply those words to our lives when preparing our hearts for Advent.
One of my favorite Christmas hymns, Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne, expresses the wonder of of Christ’s birth and preparing our hearts for Him. Meditate on the words of the chorus to prepare for Advent.
Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
for thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.
Preparing for Christmas can be joyful, not stressful.
How are you preparing your heart for Advent?