He (John) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'”
Luke 3:3-4 (NRSV)
A cartoon was shared on Facebook this week that caught my attention. In the first frame a man was hanging a “Happy Holidays” sign. Another man standing below the sign remarked “I’m sick of all this political correctness! Can we just call it what it is??? In the second frame we see the first man handing a new sign that read “Happy, make-your-kids-into-greedy-little-materialistic-consumption-addicts Day.” Unfortunately, for many Christmas has become a time for children making unending list of things they want and parents spending more than they should in order to make sure their children have a “Happy Holiday”. Too often we as Christians have not done much to stop this materialistic over consumption. For the next two weeks our lectionary readings will be about John the Baptist. Advent is a time in the church to prepare for Christ coming, past, present and future. John’s message is one of preparing for the coming of Christ and is an important message for us to hear, especially during this time when the world is encouraging us buy, buy and buy some more. So what can you do as a family to make this time more than a Happy Holiday? One way is by worshipping regularly and having Advent devotions. Margie and I struggled, when we were raising our boys, with family devotions. We like most families were busy. But we always had an Advent wreath and family Advent devotions during December. It was one of the ways we tried to get our sons to understand that Christmas was more than just getting. Another suggestion would be to get yourself and your family involved in some special project this December, especially one that encourages giving rather than receiving. John suggests in Luke 3:11 that we should share cloths and food with those who have none. As a family you might go and buy underwear and socks for the Banquet or volunteer to work at the banquet. Pick up a name from the giving tree and as a family shop for the gift suggested on the slip. Our family decided this year not to purchase gifts for all of the nieces and nephews and their children who really don’t need more toys and clothes and instead find an agency that is in need of a donation. As a family we would discuss what agency we would be supporting and spend some time learning about their ministry. As Christians we all know that Christmas is more than just another “Happy Holiday”. But it takes an effort to make sure our children and grandchildren understand the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of our savior. The best preparation for Christmas comes in giving to others. My hope is that this December your preparation for Christmas would include helping those who are in need.