Posts Tagged ‘preparation’

Life Notes—December 12, 2013 

  “He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord…’”

John 1:23

It was my last business trip of the year. Everything went according to schedule, until my phone rang at 5:20 on the morning I was to return home. A computerized voice said my flights had been cancelled and would I accept rebooking for the following day. I said, “No,” and was told to hold for the next available agent. An hour or so later, a nice woman made flight arrangements that would get me home on the same day, albeit 12 hours later than I had planned. The wait was worthwhile. I arrived at the airport long before my new flight was to depart and was told, “All passengers bound for Dallas, please wait in this line for the next available agent. Your flights have been cancelled.” That wait was another hour, but the agent assured me my flights had not been cancelled, only delayed a couple hours. Again, the wait was worthwhile because I would get home later that day. I got to my gate several hours before the new departure time, and waited. Several hours later, my flights were cancelled after all. I returned to the ticket counter for rebooking. Another line and another long wait, and I was booked onto the same flights I had been offered at 5:20 that morning, returning me home the next day. It was a lot of waiting for one day, with very little to show for it.

Advent is a time of waiting. Advent is a time of preparation. In truth, it is a time to prepare while we wait. Christmas does not arrive until December 25, regardless of how early we begin our preparations. On my business trip, I was not going to get home on my planned day, regardless of how long I waited or how diligently I prepared. It would happen in its time. Whether our Advent journey is worthwhile depends on what we do as we are waiting. John the Baptist, whose ministry preceded that of Jesus, proclaimed, “Prepare the way!” He preached the need to prepare ourselves for Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, while we wait.

The season of Advent invites us to reevaluate Jesus’ place in our lives. It is a time to reflect on the areas needing a Savior’s help and guidance. Yet, holiday parties, gift buying, decorating, and other activities that leave little time for serious reflection, will consume this time of preparation and waiting. We do well to make time to reflect and prepare, while we wait. Otherwise, Advent will become a wasted opportunity to draw closer to God, and Christmas will just be another holiday.

Come home to church this Sunday. What are you waiting for this season?

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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Life Notes—December 13, 2012 

“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the throng of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’  So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.’”  Luke 3:16-18

Probably every athlete in every sport goes through some sort of preseason training—a time of preparing, physically and mentally, for the actual season.  Often it involves extended and painful workouts, unusual practice hours and a grueling schedule intended to break old habits and form the athlete into a new being—one in game-shape, whatever that may mean for their particular sport.  John the Baptist was sort of an Advent coach.  His job was to prepare the people for the coming of Christ.  The writer of the gospel of Luke claims “…he proclaimed the good news to the people.”  When I think of good news, I think of something happy and pleasant. But what we read hardly sounds like fun.  It sounds more like a drill sergeant in basic training screaming that we will be rising every morning at 4:00 am and running five miles uphill in the rain before breakfast.

John says Christ will baptize us with fire, separating the wheat from the chaff, the latter of which will be burned with unquenchable fire.  The visual he was using, though it sounds strange today, was probably familiar and powerful at the time.  When wheat was harvested, before it could be made into bread, the non-wheat debris had to be separated out.  That which was not wheat was burned, leaving only the useful portion.

The alchemists of old purified gold and precious metals by burning away the impurities.  Metaphorically speaking, this is what is done with an impure spirit—the impurities are burned away, leaving something cleaner, purer and more useful to the creator’s purposes.  When we accept Jesus into our lives we begin a journey of change.  When we surrender Jesus lordship over our lives we allow the less-useful, sinful parts of our lives to fall away.  We do this so our spirit will draw ever closer to that of the pure and perfect Christ, even if burning away our impurities is painful at times.  It is the only way to get from where we are into the presence of the One we long for.  It requires a relationship.  Advent is a period of training and preparation.  The Christ-child is coming.  Are you ready?

This will be the third Sunday of Advent.  Tom preaches downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9 and 11.

Come home to church this Sunday.  This Christmas, do what it takes to get in the game…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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