If you’ve been inside a retail store in the last month and a half, chances are you’ve already been inundated with more Christmas music than you know what to do with. From the less than inspiring tones of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” to beautiful sacred tunes like “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Holy Night,” marketers operate on the assumption that if we are thinking Christmas, we are more likely to make bigger purchases. And while God and deeply held religious faith may be mocked and marginalized at increasing rates in our country, Christmas gift-buying is a critical pillar to our nation’s economy. It may be officially the “Holiday Season” but the 50% markdown sales always seem to start on December 26.

Colleagues of mine from Christian denominations that worship in more formal ways (Lutheran, Anglican, and more) have been known to criticize our practice of singing Christmas Carols in December and acting like Christmas is over as soon as the tinsel goes on sale. “Advent is Important” they declare. And they have a point. We benefit from observing Advent when we:

 Consider what it was like to live before the Lord had come
 Remember that He is coming again
 For both reasons, prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus, our Once and Coming King!

How can we do this? Every time you put up a decoration, wrap a gift, or bake some cookies, do some internal preparation as well. Look at your heart and make sure there is no bitterness there. Take time to dwell on the changes that will happen when our Lord returns to establish His Eternal Kingdom. And just as any rulers advance team would prepare the setting for where their boss would appear, make the season of Advent preparations one where all things reflect our/your undivided loyalty to the Lord of Heaven come to earth!

A joyful Advent to you all.