Frequently, at each Christmas season’s end, I hear people say, “Next year, I’m not going to do all this running around and extra spending. Christmas is getting too exhausting!”
My silent reply is, “Speak into the microphone. I want to record this as a reminder for next year.”
Though some seasonal preparations can be important, I also believe they can be huge distractions. These kinds of preparations — the weeks that go into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve party planning — can be downright exhausting.
Moreover, they cause us to miss another aspect of preparation that is infinitely more important.
Yes, we are to prepare our minds and hearts. Not for Santa Claus, not for Christmas Day and not for the most fashionable New Year’s Eve party.
Rather, we should prepare our minds and hearts for eternal matters.
The scripture readings for the Sundays in Advent all follow a pattern: preparing for the Son of God’s return, often called the Second Coming.
We don’t talk much about that eventuality, but God has promised it will happen when we least expect it.
Jesus talks about it coming unannounced like a thief in the night. He describes it as a bridegroom arriving unannounced, saying those who are ready will go with him, and those who are not will be left behind.
No one knows the day or the hour. Jesus said that he himself doesn’t know the day or the hour.
I shake my head at the arrogance and pride of men and women who attempt to predict when certain milestones like the end of the world — Dec. 21 passed uneventfully — and the Second Coming will take place.
If Jesus doesn’t know, how do people think they can outsmart God by figuring out His plan?
Jesus says to watch for the signs, not to predict.
As we watch for the signs, we must prepare ourselves to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Prepare your heart and mind as we approach 2013.
Focus on things eternal more than you focus on things temporary.
Make time each day — even if it is a few minutes — to think about your spiritual health, your state of mind and heart. If you find your spirit dragging, it will be time to stop what you are doing and regenerate your soul.
Find a place to worship. Find a place that will help you focus on God. Ask God to give you the kind of insights that will help you properly prepare — not only for 2013, but also for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.