Oakley United Methodist Church
Monday, December 17, 2018
Bringing Joy to God and Our Neighbors
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Are You Ready for Christmas?
 
     For many, many years – I was that guy at the mall on Christmas Eve, pulling his hair out, rushing around in a panic because I had put off buying presents until the last minute. “What do you mean the mall closes at 6 tonight? I’ve got more shopping to do!" You would think I would have been better prepared. After all, it’s not like Christmas is a last-minute announcement – it’s the same date every year!
 
     Shopping for gifts was the first thing I thought of when Christmas rolled around, but it was the last thing I did. I spent most of the Advent Season worrying about getting the right gifts for everyone. Then I would procrastinate and delay shopping until Christmas Eve – another Advent come and gone, another season of preparing for Christmas being ill-prepared.
 
     How about you? Are you ready for Christmas this year? Is the tree up? Decorations done? Christmas cards sent out? “But, it’s only Thanksgiving!” you might say, “I’ve got weeks to get ready!” But if you wait until then to get prepared, you just might miss the season of preparation – this season we call Advent. Advent is a time of preparation for Christ to come into the world.
 
     We often focus our attention only on the birth of Jesus’ – His first coming. But there will be a Second Advent – there will be a second coming and we should focus on that as well.  We live between these two Advents, preparing to celebrate Christ’s arrival while living our lives with the end in mind – preparing ourselves to celebrate Christ’s return.
 
     In the hustle and bustle of this season – we can actually end up ignoring Christ while getting caught up in our cultural consumerism. The world encourages us to shop, shop, shop and the next thing you know it’s Christmas Eve – and you pause, take a deep breath, and say: “Oh yes, Jesus! I forgot all about Jesus. Am I ready for his arrival into my world?” To which I would ask, “Which arrival? His first or His next?”
 
      Because if we truly prepare for Advent by living with the end in mind – with Christ’s second coming, then we will better understand that we should be living in counter-cultural ways. Living with the end in mind gives us the proper perspective, it shifts our focus and helps us become better prepared for this very special season.
 
     If Christmas is truly a season for giving, then truly make it so and give to those in need. If Christmas is a season for feasting, then feast faithfully and feed the hungry. If Christmas is a season of joy, hope, and peace – then live out those virtues with good deeds to both neighbor and stranger. If Christmas is a season of love, then be generous with it and give abundantly. Are these the sort of things that can be found on your Christmas list? So, I ask again, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
– Blessings, Peace, and Love! Pastor Vic