What do you normally do to prepare for Christmas? If you’re like most of us the season is filled with shopping for gifts, baking, decorating, wrapping the aforementioned gifts and placing them under a beautifully decorated tree in eager expectation of Christmas morning.
But there’s another kind of preparation I want you to think about this Advent season that has nothing to do with the trappings of the typical hustle and bustle. I want you to think about a quieter, more internal preparation that can go on through the season, even in small ways, to make room in your heart to receive the hope that is ours in Christ.
This Sunday in Sanctuary worship we will begin our Joy to the World Advent Worship series with “Prepare him Room: Hopeful Joy.” Because this year marks the 300th anniversary of the beloved classic Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World,” we’ve chosen Joy to the World as the theme to be woven throughout all of our worship, programs, and activities.
The Joy we’ll be focusing on this season of Advent is something very different from the more commercialized joy often associated with this season — the lights, the glitter, the gifts, and the merriment. During this worship series we’ll be exploring the other facets of joy including Hopeful Joy, Loving Joy, Unabashed Joy, and Peaceful Joy.
So this coming Sunday we’ll light the first candle of the Advent wreath — the candle of Hope. Following both our scripture reading from Isaiah 40:3-5 and the first verse of the hymn Joy to the World, we will think together about what it means to “Let every heart prepare him room.”
3 A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
What does it mean to prepare room in our hearts to receive the Christ Child anew? In the wilderness times of our lives? In the valleys, mountaintops, and rough places?
During Advent we prepare room in our hearts — readying ourselves to receive Christ in the center of our living. Wherever we are — even in the messiness of our lives and the world — we know we will experience the deep Joy that is the good news of Christmas. Jesus is Emmanuel — God with us!
I look forward to this Sunday’s beginning of our 2019 Season of Advent — and our exploration of Hopeful Joy together in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
P.S. To learn more about all of our Joy to the World Advent Season offerings, please go to fumcfw.org/advent19.