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Advent Devotional for Sunday, December 6
• Luke 3:1-6
Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of the Christ child. The Gospel of Luke says that John went into the region around Jordan preparing the way for Jesus and preaching so that “all people will see God’s salvation” Luke 3:6.
Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus who was to come after him, so are we invited to prepare the way for others. Have you ever made preparations for a special guest in your home? Did you clean or decorate? As part of the preparations for Advent we decorate our house with a wreath, lights, and a Christmas tree in anticipation of the Messiah. While I have done this ritual since I was a child, at no time did this preparation take on more meaning than when we were missionaries in Cuba.
Under Cuba’s socialist government in the 1990s, Christmas was not a recognized holiday. When we decorated our home for Advent, all the neighbors stared at us. At the time Christmas was not a recognized holiday. We didn’t even have a Christmas Eve service at church because everyone had work or school the next day. Looking back, our decorations were rather modest, but we must have appeared to our neighbors like Danny DeVito in Deck the Halls. Nevertheless we felt that it was important to witness to our faith and keep our kids home from school on December 25th to read the Christmas story. I’m sure they didn’t mind—especially if it was to open gifts!
Since leaving Cuba we have stayed in touch with former parishioners and heard reports of the amazing church growth. The year after we returned to the States, the Cuban government recognized Christmas as an official holiday. We don’t know if decorating our home and celebrating Christmas as a family made a difference or if our house was anything more than a spectacle to our neighbors. More than our house, I’d like to think that our witness and our lifestyle invited people to want to know more about Christianity.
Just as we decorate our homes for Advent, and prepare our hearts for the birth of the Christ-child, during this season of preparation I invite you to live your life in a way—just as John the Baptist—that all people can see God’s salvation.
Dear God, may our life and witness prepare the way so that others may know salvation in Christ Jesus.
Associate Professor of Evangelism, Mission, and Methodist Studies
For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.
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