Four Ways to Prepare [Spiritually] for Christmas
I was delightfully reading a new little Advent devotional (by John Piper) I was sampling on my Kindle when I was hit with these words:
“Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared. I mean spiritually unprepared.”
Yikes. I went from delightfully reading to desperately panicking in seconds: what does it mean to be spiritually prepared for Christmas? I did a quick inventory: my gifts were bought (well, almost), the tree was up, the lights were hung (check, check, check). I even dutifully wore my Advent purple to church on Sunday (does that count?). But I realized I hadn’t really given much thought to preparing, really preparing, spiritually for Christmas.
Am I the only one? How about you (don’t worry, no one is forcing you to make a public confession)?
Thankfully, as I read on, Piper provided some helpful tips for preparing spiritually for Christmas, and I’d like to share them here, while adding some of my own comments to each.
Four Ways to Prepare Spiritually for Christmas:
- Meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. My friend recently confessed that in growing up in a Christian home, she has never really understood the depth of her need for a Savior. Another friend, on the other hand, after battling with addiction for years, knows and relies daily on her desperate need for her Savior, the very giver of her sanity, health and life. Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. Spend time time this Advent asking God to deepen your awareness of your need for Him. Piper says, Christmas will not have its intended effect until “we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”
- Engage in sober self-examination. This does not mean checking how many moles are on your back or how many wrinkles have appeared around your eyes (though there is a time and place for this kind of examination!). Rather, this is a deep internal examination of how we are doing spiritually. Piper says, “Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter.” Thus there should be time for honest self-reflection, where we invite the Holy Spirit in to show us where we need His help and healing most. As the Psalmist cried out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Preparing spiritually for Christmas means allowing God to come in and do heart surgery where needed.
- Build God-centered anticipation and expectancy into your home–especially for the children. I confess the most exciting thing about Christmas growing up was the anticipation of not knowing what might show up under the tree Christmas morning! How do we get excited about Christmas beyond material things? How do we get our kids excited about our King’s arrival? This may take some imagination and creativity, but surely there are ways. My children are young, so I would appreciate suggestions here!
- Be much in the Scriptures (and memorize the great passages!). I am always amazed at how when I enter back into the Scriptures (yes, after a certain unintended time away), it brings life, light, hope and healing into my soul. Piper says, “Gather around that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.” Amen.
I pray these four suggestions may help you and me on our way to preparing spiritually for Christmas. Are there any others you would add? Please share them here. For as Piper says of Christmas,
“It’s joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready!”