These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 12, 2017. The discussion was based upon a reading from Luke 1:76-79, Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20, and the “Benedictus.”
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
As we enter into the holiday season there are many preparations to be made. Thanksgiving is just under two weeks away. Christmas Eve is in just six weeks from today.
What preparations will need to be made? How are you preparing?
It takes time to prepare something. Making preparations takes intentionality.
One does not simply throw water, sugar, yeast, and flour in a bowl and hope bread rises. Things have to be carefully measured and mixed together. There may even be some trial and error, but the baker keeps refining, preparing and working the dough in order to make the perfect loaf.
One does not simply throw seeds in the ground and expect to eat vegetables the next day. The ground must be prepared, the seeds selected, and plants nurtured. Months of preparations go into every morsel we eat.
A building is not built or renovated based upon passive desires. It takes careful planning, budgeting, and gathering of materials. Architects and builders must be contacted, drawings developed, a plan in place. Materials must be purchased and then fit carefully together based upon the plan.
Things simply do not come into being. They must be prepared for, worked toward with intentionality. And, the quality of the preparation will directly impact the results. Failure to measure the ingredients with care, will result in bread that doesn’t rise or is too salty; a gardener who doesn’t make careful preparations may grow more grass than tomatoes; and, a building that hasn’t been carefully designed may collapse in on itself.
I sometimes wonder why it has taken so long for the Lord to return. I know the Scriptures that say that a thousand years are like a day (or something like that) in the eyes of God. But, its been two days now. Why the delay? Why is it taking so long?
I find it hard to believe that the reason for Christ’s delayed return is due to a lack of desire or will on God’s part; therefore it must be a lack of preparation on ours. Perhaps, we are not, and most certainly the world is not ready to receive him.
How are you preparing for the coming of the Lord?
How are you helping others prepare to receive the Lord?
How are your preparations impacting the results?
We prepare for things with a clear hope of what will come. A baker carefully measures the ingredients as he prepares a loaf of bread. A gardener tends her garden as the plants grow and the fruit matures. An architect and builder makes plans and the executes them just as she has figured them. As Christians, we yearn for the day–are called to prepare for the day–when the lion shall lie down with the lamb. When weapons will be turned into farm tools and neither will we learn war any more. We yearn for a day when love will reign, when every tear will be wiped away: a time when hatred and backbiting, gossip and lying, fidelity, truth and dignity become the norm rather than the exception; when people treat others as they wish to be treated.
We hope for a day when heaven comes to earth; a day when all know the liberating and life-giving love of God found in Jesus Christ; when all truly know that the Way to peace, the fulfillment of the law, is in loving God and neighbor more and more each day till that is all there is…Love.
This is the hope Scripture holds before us; and, it won’t come, it can’t come, until we change our hearts and lives. It won’t come, and it can’t come, unless we are willing to forgive even our enemies, refuse to go to war, choose love, talk to people directly, and tell the truth. Our hope cannot be birthed in this world until we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. God’s love cannot be manifest in this world until it has been made real to us: only then can we share it with others that they might truly know it too.
23 Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. (Hebrews 10:23, Common English Bible)
If we’re faithful, if we make the proper preparations, the things we hope for will happen. Peace on earth, good will toward all will come as God promised—as we make proper preparations.
Therefore, siblings of God,
24 let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. 25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, Common English Bible)
We must teach all nations—all people in all places—the Way of Christ. We’re called to share our hope, live into it, and help others do the same. We must make preparations, help the world to welcome and receive its Savior.
Other thoughts and questions:
- We live in a culture that isn’t used to taking time to carefully prepare much. In our convenience culture, we have lost the ability to thoughtfully and carefully prepare. I wonder how this impacts our ability to make disciples? We look for the easy convenient method of making disciples; but, there is no simple “add water and its finished” way of helping people build a healthy, loving relationship with God and others. Relationships take time and intentionality (preparations).
- Success—however we may define it—can (I think) be linked with the quality of our preparations.