Confession 358: Anticipation

He [John] will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the sprit and power of Elijah.  He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking.  He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Luke 1: 17 (CEB)

Several months ago, my boys had their first overnight with a friend.  They waited in eager anticipation for the arrival of their guest–standing at the door a full twenty minutes before the expected entrance to make sure he would get a warm welcome.  Games were laid out, toys carefully chosen, activities planned and sleeping arrangements determined well in advance.  In their excitement about this most special occasion, the boys weren’t just ready–they were completely and abundantly prepared.

Anticipation is a word that conveys an eager expectation of something.  Generally, it is positive.  There is something good that is coming up and we are excited about it.

Advent is a season of anticipation. We eagerly prepare our houses for the coming of Christmas–decorating trees, hanging stockings, stringing lights, baking sweets, and wrapping gifts.  Like my boys, we completely and abundantly prepare for the arrival of family and friends.  But I wonder, in our sometimes manic preparations for Christmas Day, do we miss what should be the most anticipated event of all?

Are we really waiting in eager anticipation of the coming of Christ?  Are we completely and abundantly preparing our hearts for a renewed encounter with the King?  For this is what the gift of Advent truly is–an opportunity for us to prepare for a visit with God our Creator.

Advent isn’t a season of passively waiting.  Like John the Baptist, we must be working to prepare the way for the coming of the King.  John lived in anticipation of the coming of Christ by making ready a people prepared for the Lord.  The people of Israel weren’t prepared for Christ.  They didn’t understand how far they had fallen from God.  Their hearts weren’t open to Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  They needed time to prepare for Christ’s coming; time to repent, time to listen, time to grow.

When we truly practice Advent, we must actively make ready our hearts for the coming of the Lord.  We, too, must repent.  We must listen.  We must grow.  Our focus must be fixed firmly on God–reading his word, singing his praises, ministering to those in need.  We must approach this season with anticipation, fully expecting to have an encounter with the risen Lord.

Over the next few weeks, I would encourage you to spend some time in anticipation.  Make ready your heart for the Lord.  And watch for him.  He often shows up in the most unexpected places.

Blessings and Peace,