I love advent. I love all the ways that preparing our lives, homes and hearts for Christmas reminds us that we are preparing for the coming of Christ. We read the  Bible stories. An angel arrives and tells Zachariah and Elizabeth to get ready. He tells them even before her body tells her. Then Gabriel tells Mary what’s going to happen, how to prepare and to not be afraid.

It seems to me that these stories are told over and over with little thought given to what kind of preparation this will mean in the lives of the primary characters. These are two women who had (for different reasons) not even considered having a kid. Mary wasn’t married, was a virgin and was very young. Elizabeth was old and barren. Probably Mary hadn’t given a lot of thought to what it would take to be a mom. Probably for Elizabeth it was a dream long grieved and given up.  Preparation for either of these women probably was not simple. Preparation probably included radical life-altering changes. Mary jumped up and ran to visit Elizabeth, whom she found in seclusion. For Elizabeth it was a removal of shame and many people rejoiced for her, but for the unmarried Mary it brought disgrace. According to Matthew’s version Joseph considered sending her away secretly until the angel appeared to convince him that it would all be ok. For these two couples, life had been rocked and would never be the same. He changed their bodies, their daily lives (anyone with little kids knows this I think) and their destinies.

Whether we want to consider it or not, whether in our lifetimes or a hundred generations from now, every day we are closer to Jesus returning. I want to be wholly different when he gets here. I want him to prepare my heart now. I want to be open to whatever earth-shattering thing he wants to do in my world.

How, as we make preparations for Christmas, can we prepare our hearts for life-altering changes God will make in our lives? What have we never considered, what have we dismissed that might be the thing God wants us to prepare for? Have we cleared our hearts to make a way for what he asks?


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