Preparations are underway in the Hobday household. We have been ringing around seeing who will be staying over Christmas - we have the longest ever number of names on our present list - with over half already bought, plus the annual concerns about whether we have enough Christmas cards. We have written our Christmas letter and even added photos this year, in case some of our old friends have forgotten what we look like. The things-to-do list is massive. It is a busy time - we are getting ready.
But in a way, none of that is important. It is necessary to prepare for guests, that's true, and not to leave anyone out when we buy for our sixteen grandchildren. But of course the most important thing is to prepare ourselves by ensuring Jesus is our focus, as we get everything ready to celebrate his birth.
The prophet Isaiah was looking forward to the Messiah coming centuries ahead of time. What he wrote then, foretelling that John the Baptist would prepare for Christ, speaks to us today:
A voice of one calling,
'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'
So, amongst our busyness, how can we prepare? Perhaps we can use these verses. If we are visiting anyone we could think of the highway for our God as we travel. Maybe when we put up the Christmas tree we can pause to think of raising valleys or as we smooth sheets for guest beds, remember the rough ground becoming level, the rugged places a plain. Let these little reminders help us to draw close to God and ponder the enormity of what actually happened: God sent his baby to become man and to die so that we could have salvation.
And why should we stop and think? So that we may see the wonderful awe-inspiring glory of the Lord this Christmas!
Annie Try is the author of 'Losing Face', a book mostly for young adults. She has three finished novels which will soon be seeking publishers. When she finally retires as a Clinical Psychologist, she imagines she will write, dance, praise and spend more time with her family. She is Acting Chair for the Association of Christian Writers.