Having been brought up in the UK, but now having lived 3 years in Peru, I have begun to see Christmas in a different light. The church does little to celebrate Christmas here and summer is on the horizon. The shops do put out a few decorations like at home, but working amongst the poor, Christmas is often just another day for them. So engaging with Christmas, and more importantly, recognizing the Messiah in it, has become a choice. (Perhaps it was always a choice, but one I did not realize until I was away from the familiarity of Christmas in the UK.)
In order for the Jewish people to recognize and accept the Messiah, John was sent ‘to prepare the way’ as the subtitle to this passage in my Bible puts it. Actually, more accurately, he was a voice calling others to ‘prepare the way’ in their own lives. They, like us, needed to repent and believe in order to truly see the Messiah.
The challenges John directs to the crowd, the soldiers and the tax collectors, make me question where my attitudes towards receiving and recognizing the Messiah are also out of line during the Advent season. What do I truly believe Christmas is about? Creating excitement for my children based on my own nostalgia? Planning and cooking an authentic British dinner? Making sure presents arrive on time? Meeting others’ expectations?
And with all of the trapping of Christmas stripped away, no extended family nearby, no adverts on the television reminding me of what gifts I haven’t bought yet, no cold wet dark days (or lots of snow!), I have to choose what is important this season, and if, at all, I will choose to engage with Jesus in a meaningful way. I have to repent of my skepticism when it comes to Christmas preparations, and believe that God still wants to meet me in it. And recognize that not only does he want to meet me, he also wants to meet others through me, as I choose to share the joy and true meaning of Christmas and Advent with them.
Where do you need to repent in your attitude towards Advent and Christmas?
Where do you need to believe in your attitude towards Advent and Christmas?