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Ready for the holidays

December 1, 2008

by Rev. Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

Elections . . . recounts . . . bailouts . . . pirates . . . To say the least, I’m ready for the holidays this year. Thanksgiving could not have come soon enough for me.

And now, I’m looking forward to celebrating the birth of the Savior at Christmas. With all the unexpected events taking place in the world around us this year, the traditions of the holidays will be even more meaningful as Americans ponder the future that will be 2009.

Now that Advent is upon us, we can turn our eyes to the coming Messiah, the one the prophets promised would come to save His people from their sins – the One who would bring peace on earth.

And it is the time of year to rejoice in all the Lord has given us. In the midst of your preparation and activities this Advent season, please take the time to thank God for all He has given you (jobs, family, home, clothing, school, transportation, life itself, etc.).

When you take a few moments to remember all that God has done in your life, and in the life of your family, the ups and downs of the past year begin to fade away as the really important things come back into focus. When we look at all that God has blessed us with, it is very easy to be joyful and to be thankful.

It is quite easy to prepare for the coming of the King at Christmas because He has already come! But the Apostle Peter reminds us that “the end of all things is near, be sensible and sober in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7). A few presents and twinkly lights just won’t do it as we prepare.

With the end of all things being near, you would think that the Apostle Peter would tell us to change our lifestyles. You would think he would give a self-improvement plan that would help Christians become more holy.

But that isn’t what Peter says. You see, Peter isn’t concerned about our outward actions, he is more worried about what is going on inside us, and in our personal relationship with God.

Peter tells us to pray sensibly and with a sound, sober mind. You see, prayer is a very serious thing. It is a mighty and awesome privilege to be allowed to talk with the Living God in prayer.

The very same God who created the entire universe personally listens to your prayers. He hears you when you call to Him. He anxiously waits for you to talk with Him. And the best news of all is that because His Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for all your sins, God answers your prayers.

God gives and gives and gives to you without limit because of His love and mercy for you. So when you pray, boldly drop to your knees and pour your heart out to the Father with your requests, knowing that you are at the receiving end of all of God’s promises for you. There is no better way to prepare for the Lord’s coming this Advent season than spending time with Him in prayer.

Don’t want to be overwhelmed by all the busy-ness and hype this holiday season? Want to be truly ready to enjoy Advent and Christmas this year?

Yes, you should turn away from the sins and evil things you are doing. That is indeed a good thing to do at Advent. But the real Advent preparation is in the receiving of God’s gifts – found in His Word.

So as you get ready for the holidays this season, give yourself to prayer sensibly and soberly. When you do, you will find real forgiveness, real peace, true rejoicing, and exuberant joy.

Rejoice this season in the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus Christ our Lord!