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Sermon: “Preparing”

Rev. Glenn G. Grant

Kirkridge Presbyterian Church

Transcription from December 4th, 2022

Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors

As I was discussing with the children, this is a season of preparing and I think… has everybody started preparing for Christmas? Was that, is that a yes or a no, David? It's a, yes. I put Megan in charge of all gift buying. So, she bought her own first? Well, yeah. Did you give her a dollar limit? No, I didn't actually. That's why she bought her own first!

No, we're not doing a lesson on parenting here. We're doing a lesson on preparing, uh, you know, we do all this preparing. I mean, try, and find space on the calendar this month for adding in one more activity. We just had to make an appointment to see our son and our daughter-in-law who live in Pontiac, and we just had to make an appointment so that we could get together with him and celebrate his birthday.

Funny when you live that close and you still have to really work to find time to be together. And yet this time of year that is so much the case, it is to the point where the presbytery basically cancels everything except for the December presbytery meeting. There are no committee meetings. Unless now of course they can be done by Zoom. So, you can call in from your car or wherever you want, wherever you have your phone, and be part of a meeting. So, this year they're happening. Oh well. But we're preparing, we are preparing for what? We prepare for Christmas. We put up the decorations. You know, it starts probably in early November.

I'm not talking about the stores; I'm talking about people. Yeah, we have a neighbor that the day they took down their Halloween decorations, they put up their Christmas decorations, and then when you look at the weather forecast since then, maybe they were the smart ones, but at least they didn't deal with wind.

But all their inflatable Christmas decorations are flat. But you know, we spend all this time preparing, getting ready. We've got, oh, we've got to clean the house because we have family coming over, or we have to make travel arrangements to go see family, or we have to get the food prepared, or we have to at least do the shopping or make up a list of what you need from the store because nobody really wants to go to the store this time of year.

But we go through all of that, and we get caught up in this preparing for Christmas with all the logistics, and our scriptures would tell us that our preparations this time of year should not be about logistics. It should not be about logistics. You know, that's all the stuff that gets in the way of what we're supposed to be doing.

We're supposed to be preparing our hearts with hope and peace and joy and love over these four weeks leading into Christmas. We're supposed to be preparing the way for the coming of the Lord, and you know, trying to schedule yet one more Christmas party into the calendar for some reason, just doesn't seem like it's preparing the way of the Lord.

Now, there are a lot of other things that we do on the side that probably are much more in line with what the scripture tells us we're supposed to be doing. You know, we adopt a couple of families for fish so that they can enjoy a Christmas. Maybe we ring some bells for Salvation Army. Maybe we contribute to Kris Kindle offering, and those are all wonderful things. The question is, why do we only do 'em this time of year?

If we are only doing 'em this time of year, are we really working to prepare the way of the Lord, or are we just doing something because it's a good thing to do this time of year?

And that's a question that kind of should eat away at us a little bit because the real trick to preparing is discovering why we do things. Why are we doing this? Why do we light candles? Why do we have a children's program? Why do we sing these hymns and carols as opposed to what we normally would sing? Why do we go through the decorations? Why do we do all of this? Why do we put lights up all over our houses and then complain about our consumer's bills?

Why do we feast? Why do we put out a spread of food that is so much more than we really need or normally would eat? And then complain after the holidays that we put on a few pounds, and we've got to get some exercise and go on a diet. And how is that preparing for the way of the Lord?

You know, we get confused with what we're doing now. I'm not saying that we shouldn't decorate our houses to celebrate Christmas. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have feasts with family and friends, but we do need to look at why we are doing those things. Are we just doing the feast because it's expected, or are we doing the feast because we really want to spend time with our family and friends? And we are doing that because we love being with them.

Has anybody seen the TV commercials about the arguments that come up over holiday meals? I think Draft Kings, one of the online betting apps are running a commercial where it is, you can place a bet on when you know great aunt so-and-so is gonna start talking about her skin condition. Or you can place a bet on when grandpa and uncle so-and-so are going to get into a fight over politics.

You know, if that's what our holiday meals are like, we shouldn't be doing 'em. We should be doing them because we love being with those people. We should be ringing bills for Salvation Army because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even the ones we don't meet that are in need, we should be adopting families at Christmas time from fish because we want them to know that the community cares about them.

You see, it's not what we're doing. It's why we're doing it. Why are we doing these things, and are we doing 'em to prepare the way for the Lord? Are we filling our calendars to prepare the way for the Lord?

Our scripture talks about making the way straight and level, you know, that's what John the Baptist was crying out for people to do, right? Make straight the path of the Lord. Make the mountains low and raise up the valleys. Make the pathway straight and level.

And I can just imagine that if John the Baptist lived in Michigan, the Pharisees and Sadducees would come out there and complain about all the potholes that were in this new path.

But we are called to be helping build that path, helping make that level helping to remove the obstacles to the coming of the Lord. And the way we remove the obstacles is by working to build the kingdom of heaven the way it's supposed to be. That means that you, love your neighbor as yourself.

You care for them the way you care about your own family. It means that you treat another person as another child of God, regardless of whether you agree with their politics, their sexual orientation, the way they dress, their nationality, or anything else.

Now, the flip side of all of this is that we have to look at what it means for us individually. How are we working to eliminate obstacles?

That puts a whole different slant on what we're supposed to be doing in preparing for Christmas. What are we doing to eliminate obstacles to keep others or even ourselves from experiencing the incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us?

What is in our individual life that is stopping us from truly embracing God's presence with us? What in our life are we doing or not doing that is an obstacle to somebody else experiencing God's presence? That is what Advent is all about, is examining those things. And so, this week, since this is our week where we say peace is our theme, what are those obstacles in your own life to your personal peace? And what obstacles might you be presenting to someone else's? Focus on those and we'll be so much better prepared for the coming of Christ on Christmas. Let us pray.

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