It was a crisp Saturday night and my wife and I were on the way to a church movie night at a local gym. Napoleon Dynamite was on the docket, a favorite of both of ours. We were about halfway there when my 8-month pregnant wife asked me to stop because she needed to use the restroom. For those who have children, you know this routine well. Restroom breaks become more and more frequent as the due date gets closer. So without hesitation I pulled into a parking spot and I waited for her in the car. As I sat there, I went over all the details involved in setting up a large projector and sound system to put on the movie night. In a flash, my wife came back to the car with a puzzled look on her face. She got in the car, looked at me and said, “I think my water just broke?”
Everything was about to change.
Advent is a season of preparation. The official definition of the word Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. As secular culture prepares for the Christmas season there is shopping to be done, parties to attend, and dinners to prepare. Those who consider themselves followers of Christ prepare something different: the heart. Whether we look at Advent as merely a holiday habit or look at the tradition in the true spirit of Advent, both lead to the same place: that the Savior was born. A Child—unexpected, overlooked by some—and a King like none other. The idea of a Messiah can still be easily set aside to the rest of the hoopla of the Christmas season. So are we prepared?
For my wife and me, having our first child took a lot of preparation. We had to prepare ourselves physically. We made our nursery, set up the crib, and redecorated our house to be “baby proof.” We took Lamaze classes to be ready for the birth. Along with all the physical we also had to prepare our hearts. Our marriage of two would soon become a family of three. We would talk about how different our lives would be. I would daydream of what kind of father I wanted to be; how I would love my children. Hopefully I would learn from my parents what was important in life and make sure I took the time to do those things with my kids. There were so many details to look at in preparation for this small child that would transform us.
“Whether we look at Advent as merely a holiday habit or look at the tradition in the true spirit of Advent, both lead to the same place, that the Savior was born. A Child—unexpected, overlooked by some—and a King like none other.”
As first time parents, of course we made mistakes. With all the help we had from family and classes and books, we tried to be as prepared as we thought was manageable. But we soon found out how often parents make mistakes.
So, first time parent mistake number one. We were mostly prepared for our firstborn. We had all the supplies, but not all of them were ready. We were still a month away from our due date, so we thought we had time. We were told that you should prepare a bag ready to go to the hospital close to your due date. “Sure! That sounds like a good a idea, let’s do that two weeks prior to our due date or even one week. That should be fine, right?” we told ourselves. Wrong!
We were now on the side of the road without a bag for the hospital and my wife going into labor. Progress was slow. Therefore, we didn’t feel the need to rush to the hospital. Instead, we dropped off all the gear for the movie night and then headed to the hospital. We ended up spending three days in the hospital because our child was pre-term – a whole month early.
Needless to say, we were not ready to bring a baby home. Sure the crib was up, but all the sheets were still in their bags, the car seat was brand new in the box in our garage. We needed to open and wash the baby clothes and so many other things that we needed to prep for a real live baby to be in our house. The idea of having a baby quickly became a reality and all these things had a purpose.
So the question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we prepared?” Is this Advent season going to make a difference in our lives? Is the idea of hope that a baby brought to free those from suffering ringing true in our hearts and minds? Do we believe that peace is possible? Peace from long-term pain and suffering? Do we find joy in the coming of a King who has promised salvation through grace? Do we find we are loved and spread that love to others? This year, are we going to prepare our heart, mind, and soul in acceptance of this Messiah? Because if we do, well, then everything is about to change.