What are we really getting ready for? Is Christmas a time for families? For children? For parties? For giving? What is it, really?
Is it really the birth date of Jesus? No one knows exactly what day he was born on, and there are even debates about the time of year. So, no, that's not the point, is it?
Is it really when Santa Claus comes? Rory says that people think Santa is "the jolly guy who comes to sell i-phones and say 'ho-ho-ho' at the end of Ritz commercials." With apologies to any children who are reading this post, Santa's not the point, either.
Is it about a baby, born in a stable, laying in a manger? We see this picture all over the place, from Christmas cards to nativity sets to living pantomimes. This is how it started, but is this the point?
It's easy to focus on the warm, fuzzy stuff, isn't it? The pretty decorations, the parties, and even the adorable baby surrounded by peaceful farm animals and his serene parents. But what are we really getting ready for?
Jesus came so that we would believe: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting live John 3:16."
He came so that we would know God: "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:18."
He came so that we would choose God: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me Matthew 10:34-38."
He came so that we would follow God: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:20."
He came so that we would know the truth: "Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice John 18:37."
But he's coming back as a judge: "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10."
And as King of all: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16."
So is it time to prepare for a baby?
It is time to prepare for a King: "And then shall appear the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:30-31."
And a Judge: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; And he shall set the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:31-34,41,46."
So prepare. But not as the world prepares, with tinsel and cookies and wrapping paper. Prepare as Jesus prepared. With prayer, not presents, and fasting, not feasting. Somehow, in the midst of this holiday about the baby, we have to prepare for the King.