This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passage: Luke 2:21-40
The holidays are hectic. In the midst of the artificial, I am inclined to forget the real. Glitz, glamor, and lights sparkle and shimmer. Shiny wrapping conceals contents unknown, precious or base. Snow covers a brown earth, turned muddy by spring. Sales and advertising attract and allure me toward the shopping mall. My credit card statement climbs higher and higher.
I am preparing for Christmas, but am I making the right preparations? Am I preparing, or am I participating in a parade of pretense that misses the meaning of Christmas altogether. Am I constructing a sort of glitz and glamor of Christmas that obscures its true meaning?
My Christmas preparations are consumed with shopping, wrapping presents, dashing from parties to programs, house-cleaning, cooking, and entertaining. I am exhausted. I have too much to do! I get so tuckered out with it all, I don’t know if I will have the time or strength to even get to the Christmas Eve service at church!
Am I missing something? Preparation is about priority. Are my priorities misplaced? Christmas is about Christ’s coming. Do I even know how to get ready for Christmas? How should I prepare myself to celebrate Christ’s birth?
I think of Simeon waiting at temple. Perhaps Simeon was a retired priest, lawyer, or even a past president of the Hebrew Sannhedrin. He waited for Messiah in the temple, assured by the Holy Spirit that he would see Him before he died. A lifetime of preparation and waiting lived for a moment of assurance and hope!
I think of Anna waiting at temple. She had spent a lifetime preparing for Christ’s arrival. Widowed at a young age, now over one hundred years old, Anna lived in a side room of the Jewish temple. Anna had readied herself through decades of prayer, fasting, and waiting, and then Anna met the Messiah—Jesus. A lifetime of preparation and waiting lived for a moment of assurance and hope!
I think I understand a little bit more. The Holy Spirit is teaching me that I must prepare myself to receive Christ afresh this Christmas, by waiting in preparation in His Presence. I must make knowing Christ my primary priority. So I wait.