No day of the year requires more preparation than Christmas. The demands of the season have become increasingly prodigious. We must find just the right gift for all our friends and relations, synchronize calendars so that all events can be attended, and devise elaborate culinary plans for nearly six weeks of feasting. And then there is the decorating which gets earlier and earlier every year as it gets more and more sensational.
The first mile marker on the road to Christmas for our family is the baking of the Christmas Cake. Inspired by an episode of All Creatures Great and Small, Isabella bakes the cake in mid-October then methodically feeds it brandy for the next two months. There is no rushing the Christmas Cake. Some things cannot be hurried. The preparation must be slow and intentional. Every step is important. No shortcuts are possible. And at last, after months of waiting, the day arrives just before Christmas when the cake can be iced and enjoyed with great fanfare.
I suppose it makes sense that our Christmas preparations are slow and methodical, unfolding step by step. Since the great event our celebration signifies, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, was also slow and methodical, revealed step by step in the history of God’s redeeming work among men. The Bible puts it this way.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-6.
God took His time. He worked in the fullness of time. He could have done things differently, but He sovereignly chose an unhurried pace to prepare men for His work of reconciling them to Himself. From generation to generation He raised up men and women through whom He acted to remind us that He is not powerless or unconcerned to save us from ourselves and prepare us to receive Him as our Savior and King. But how careful have we been to heed this preparation? Or have we spent more time preparing for mere signs of His grace than the grace those things signify?
One ancient preacher warned his congregation before observing the Lord’s Supper.
“Why come ye to this table, if you will not come to Christ? Why come to signs and seals and despise the very thing they point to?”
We could ask ourselves the same thing. Have we spent months preparing for Christmas, but have no time for Christ? John the Baptist was the great preparer – the forerunner of Jesus. His life’s work was to “make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” At his birth friends and neighbors gathered to celebrate his parent’s joy, they speculated on what the baby would grow up to become.
As his father’s unbelief gave way to belief, the Lord restored his speech and he uttered a long-delayed word of blessing. But his blessing and thanksgiving were not about his baby boy, but about the one his son would herald. John’s whole life would singularly revolve around preparing himself and others for Jesus. And Jesus would later declare that of all those born of women, John was the greatest. Nowhere is John’s greatness seen more brilliantly than in the following exchange with a Pharisee in John 3.
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Can you say that? Are you content to decrease, that Jesus may increase? Does your life revolve around preparing yourself and others to love, serve and follow Jesus? Join us this Lord’s Day, December 9, as we examine the account of the birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1:57-80 and consider our own calling to prepare ourselves and others for Christ. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Or download the December 19, 2018 Order of Service
Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.