Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness Pt. 12

Christmas Day
The weeks leading up to Christmas were pleasant and peaceful, but Christmas Day seemed empty. Most of our activities were done, our presents already opened, and aside from Christmas dinner, which was simple to prepare, there didn’t seem to be anything to do. Everyone else was busy with the activities we had reduced, businesses that didn’t close any other time were closed, and nothing seemed worth doing at home.

Midnight Christmas Eve services were an important tradition for many families, so we gave it a try. The church was hot and stuffy, crowded with people who hadn’t been there since last Christmas. The church had modern hymnals that had changed so many of the words that even the most familiar carols were hard to sing. There seemed to be a year’s supply of readings, carols, and choral numbers. The service seemed like it would never end. No wonder these people hadn’t been back since last year! Then the pastor got up and said, those of you who come here every week, this sermon is not for you, so you can tune out. Those who come once a year, this is the only time I get to preach to you, and I’ve got you for an hour, so I’ll give it to you straight. He preached hot and heavy for an hour. By the time Communion started, I just wanted to go home. Christmas Day seemed even more empty, we were all tired, Mom and Dad had headaches, and the boys were out of sorts.

The next year, we went to the Christmas Day service. What a difference! There were very few people there, but everything was calm and bright. Instead of stress and fatigue, we were full of peace and joy. There was a feeling of being in the right place.

Afterward, we went home, prepared our quiet meal, and spent a relaxed and happy day together. Because we selected only the food that made Christmas special for us, there was not too much cooking, but we had a delightfully memorable meal. We didn’t even put on any weight in December.

We played table games and read stories. There was no fighting, arguing, whining, or complaining, and no broken toys. No one was busy with extensive preparations, no one had to stay out of the way, no one had to rush off, no one felt trapped in the house, and no one was tired or had a headache. Instead, we felt thankful for our Savior, happy to be together, and free to enjoy the day.
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5
All four Gospels quote this prophecy about John the Baptist’s preparation for Jesus’ arrival. There is no mention of gifts, cards, pageants, music, decorations, travel, family, food, drink, or most of the other things we have come to associate with the Christmas season.
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Mark 1:4-5
May we all be so prepared.

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