The season of Advent helps us understand the importance of preparation. Christmas simply requires that we get ready. That might mean shopping or cooking or cleaning – or it might be the inner spiritual work that will get us ready for Christmas – but preparation of some kind is utterly essential.
Evidently, according to our reading today, God understands that completely. In fact, He takes a long time getting things ready for Jesus’ arrival here. He has been at work preparing a people who will receive Him, He calls together all the actors in the drama and teaches them their lines, and He also chooses a special messenger to set things in motion. Once the preparation is finished, Christmas can come.
I remember one particular Christmas. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that year, had been especially chaotic. Of course, there had not been enough time to do everything – and Julie and I were harried and frantic and tired. It was late on Christmas Eve. Finally, the children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. (Actually, I don’t think they were dreaming of sugar plums – but you get the point.)
Packages had been wrapped – and cookies and milk had been left out for Santa – when we noticed one box in the corner. I can’t even remember what the toy was – but I can still see the words that caught my eye late that night: some assembly required.
Let’s just say that I didn’t get much sleep that night. “Some assembly” sounds to me like something small, minor, easy – a few minutes perhaps. Maybe a screw driver and a hammer. It turned out to be a little more complicated. But as tired as I was, the preparation was important and it had to be done.
I realize that God doesn’t get tired like we do – but I can imagine Him looking around just before that first Christmas – making sure that everything is perfectly ready.
And then He points to His special messenger and He says, “It’s time!”