The Church calls this season Advent. The word Advent means a coming or arrival and is the period that includes the four Sundays just before Christmas where we are to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Many Scriptures talk about the importance of preparation. The first chapter of the book of Mark quotes the prophet Isaiah: "It is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way--a voice of one calling in the desert,' 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.' And so, John came..." (Mark 1:2-4a)
As we can see, preparation is key to receiving what God wants to give us. It was explained by John the disciple that the Word already existed in the beginning. It was through Him (The Word) that everything was created and that His life brought light. (John 1:1-5) To prepare His people for the coming of the Word, God sent John the Baptist to testify of His coming.
Miracles would abound during this time of preparation. The birth of John the Baptist through Elizabeth and Zechariah—both of the priestly order of Aaron—set in motion the means by which the story of the coming of Christ would be told. John's birth was miraculous as his parents were childless and too old to have a baby. The angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, was sent to give Zechariah the amazing news. (Luke 1:19) This child was to be "great in the eyes of the Lord" and would be "filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth." (Luke 1:15 - NLT) "He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and He will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly." (Luke 1:17 - NLT - as quoted from Malachi 4:5-6)
The Son of God—The Word—was coming with life and love and light. He was revealing God's Kingdom. Zechariah prophesied about the coming of the Lord: "He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David, just as he promised...We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord." (Luke 1:69, 64-76 - NLT)
Preparation for the Lord's coming should not be overlooked! How should we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior? The prophet Malachi gives us direction. The hearts of the fathers will be turned to the children and children to the fathers. (Malachi 4:6) Grace needs to be extended to family members and friends who are difficult. We should look at ways to impart Christ's love to them.
The prophet Isaiah has much to say about preparation. Isaiah 40:3, 57:14 and 62:10 all talk about building a highway and removing the stones or obstacles that are in the way. Stones of unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and self-righteousness will keep us from building the highway that welcomes Christ to reign in our lives. We must prepare our hearts to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. In so doing, we will welcome Him and prepare the way for Him to come and reign on the throne of our hearts. Psalm 85:13 says, "Righteousness goes before Him and prepares the way for His steps." As we live in righteousness and worship the Lord through the leading of His Spirit we can fully prepare for the coming of the Lord that will transform our lives.
Joan E. Mathias