November 27

Isaiah 40:3-11, Prepare

By Janet SawyerJanet Sawyer

I am not sure that the Prophet Isaiah had what I am reflecting on in mind when he admonished us to “prepare the way of the Lord”.  But I have loved thinking back over my life and recalling how I prepare.

As a child, our church didn’t have services on Christmas Eve, so my sister and I had our own service.  We opened gifts on Christmas Eve, so we had a LONG family service first consisting of many Christmas hymns and then the reading of the story from Matthew.  (And we always had celery soup on Christmas Eve, which I hated.)

After I married, became an Episcopalian, and had children, I reveled in all that we did to get ready to welcome the Christ Child each Advent season. After all these years, I still follow that same path.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether it has been a hard year or not; the familiar routine seems to bring me into focus about what my life in Christ is all about.

First, the Advent wreath and accompanying scriptures and prayers has been the beginning of our journey to his arrival.  We started that in 1960. We trim the tree early with ornaments collected over 63 years.  Some are homemade, some are lovely, some are tacky, but they bring back special memories of times with beloved people now gone, little children now middle-aged, and grandchildren now 12 to 28.  I have a Santa music box that doesn’t play and a Santa boot filled with candy that would kill us if we tried to eat it.  Our crèche came from the dime store and the kids played with it every year.  The donkey has three legs, and the camel is glued back together.  The baby Jesus and the wise men travel each year from the farthest point in the house.

The food has to be the same every year: Special cookies, bouillabaisse, a cheese ball with “bishop”, and a white fruit cake!  Mother’s potatoes and my mother-in-law’s cranberries – then the high point: Christmas Eve at St. David’s!  Whether it is the family service at 5 p.m. or the 10:30 p.m. pull-out-all-the-stops service, it is glorious!  He is with us and we start the journey again.

If you don’t have your own special traditions and ways of preparing for the joy of Christ’s birth, I urge you to start.  If you have some from the past, revive them again or start new ones.

You will “See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him, and his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”

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