Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Eddie Kirkland.]
Many people have asked me if The Parish is going to host a Christmas Eve service. The answer is no. And it will be no for as long as I’m around. Why? Because my wife made me promise that if we planted a church, we would never have services on Christmas Eve! This is a little sad for me, because I grew up doing Christmas Eve services. They are a great memory for me as a child. And when I look around town today, I’ll see why churches do Christmas Eve services. They’re incredibly popular.
But Danielle’s request is very wise. Christmas Eve services always bring with them a buzz of hurry, busy-ness, and a frantic pace. Getting everyone dressed, in the car, through the service that’s past kids’ bedtimes, then back home for family traditions, then staying up late to get presents ready…Christmas Eve quickly becomes a chore instead of a joy. And that’s not even considering the toll Christmas Eve services can take on volunteers or church staff. It can make a great night a very hurried and hasty experience.
John Ortberg, a prominent Christian pastor and author once asked the late Dallas Willard what he should do to be spiritually healthy. Willard’s response: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Ortberg then asked if he had any other advice, to which Willard replied, “There is nothing else…You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
If you look at the Collect for this week, the fourth week of Advent, you’ll notice something interesting.
“…that your Son…may find in us a mansion prepared for himself.”
Wait a minute. I thought Jesus was going to prepare a mansion for us. What’s this talk of preparing a mansion for him?
Once again, the season of Advent reminds us that our most important preparation during these days and weeks isn’t for Christmas morning. It’s not about preparing for presents or travel or family meals or even church services. Advent is about preparing for Jesus.
Today is Christmas Eve, the last day of the Advent season. Tomorrow, we’ll begin the feast. But tonight is our last chance to sit, pause, reflect, and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming.
Let today be slow. If you have to shop, do it as early as you can, so that when you get home you can rest by the fire. Put your phone away. Have rich conversations with your family; about something important, or about nothing at all. Tuck in your kids and take time to read the Christmas story. Call someone you can’t be with and tell them that you love them. Take time to be still, and let that stillness prepare you for the celebration that is to come.
Today, even if just for a moment, eliminate hurry. Slow down. Wait patiently for the dawn.
Make a decision to slow down today. Wrap up all of your “busyness” by dinner-time. And from the moment you sit down at the dinner table, embrace the rest of Christmas Eve. Don’t work. Don’t stress. In your heart and mind, be quiet and still, and enjoy the presence of those around you. And as you do, say this simple prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus.”