Are you ready for Christmas? I have fond recollections from childhood of my grandmother readying for Christmas by weeks and weeks of baking, boiling and kneading her way to December 25th. The kitchen and spare bedroom of her simple house would be stacked high with Tupperware containers filled with high calorie treats. Each year we could expect lady fingers, date nut balls, divinity, and peanut butter fudge. Just before Christmas day she would buy a few coconuts (we never could grow any in Putnam County) and grate them for a homemade coconut cake. One year my brothers and I decided to help grate the coconuts but failed to properly wash up before plunging into the task at hand. Instead of a pearly white color, the cake looked more like a mud hut on the side of the creek. Needless to say the cake never made it to the table.
Another year my grandmother was inspired to try something new. She had read a recipe in a magazine for rum balls. Like any good southern lady of her time, my grandmother was a staunch tee-totaler, but she had always heard you can cook the alcohol out. She dispatched my father to go in the dark of night, so no one would see, and purchase a bottle of rum to make rum balls. Like most grandmothers, she did not always work with measurements so she added rum to the mixture according to what she thought looked right. Take my word for it; minors had no business eating those rum balls! When we took the lid off of the container of rum balls, eyes would water and the elderly would wheeze.
Nowadays it would appear folks have been getting ready for Christmas since August. What I suspect most people are readying themselves is to be over Christmas. And that is too bad. I believe that part of the joy of Christmas is getting prepared, getting ready.
John the Baptist may not be the first name to come to mind when we think of those important people concerning the birth of Christ, but the Gospel of Mark reminds us that John is essential to the Advent story. Why? Because John echoed the message of Isaiah: Prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:3).
My prayer for you and your family is that you get ready, be prepared for this great season now upon us. We prepare by being attentive to those around us, keeping the main thing the main thing, and reminding ourselves what this season is all about. It is easy to get distracted and even get disturbed. The prophets and others are here to remind us that God is doing something in our midst – get ready and celebrate.
It is joy to prepare with you for what God is doing through this congregation that we call family.
Peace to you this season and all our days,