prepare.jpgLet us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Revelation 19:7 (NIV)

Around mid-July, I walked into one of my favorite craft stores and was shocked to see workers stocking the shelves with Christmas stuff! A month later, I popped into another store and found half of the store dedicated to Christmas decorations. In awe, I pushed my daughter through rows upon rows of pre-lit Christmas trees as she squealed with delight at all of the pretty lights.

Many of us feel frustrated with the commercialization of Christ’s birth. The way businesses continue to push back the Christmas selling season further and further is sometimes irritating. And, although I don’t necessarily like it, I can still learn something from these ambitious marketers.

First, sellers are so anxious for the season to arrive that they begin preparing six months in advance. I claim that Christmas marks one of the two most critical events in history for me as a Christian (the other being Easter), but I can hardly even begin to think about the birth of Christ until Thanksgiving dinner has been cleared from the table. Some years, even doing an Advent devotional for the twenty-four days leading up to Christmas is a stretch. Just think of the difference it would make if I began preparing my heart just a few months in advance.

Retailers also work to build excitement and anticipation by announcing new products and special sales, just in time for Christmas. Think about how many television programs review the hottest new toys coming out for Christmas. Too often the excitement and anticipation I should feel is buried somewhere under the stress and exhaustion I experience. I need to stop and consider the small ways I can build that eagerness back into my life.

Finally, stores seek to extend the season as long as possible. They promote pre-Christmas, Christmas, and post-Christmas sales. They start long before Christmas arrives and carry over into the New Year. Typically, my attitude is more along the lines of “get it over with as soon as possible.” I want to truly enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ so much that I never want the season to end. When He is truly the center of my life, then I will celebrate His birth all year long.

So this year, rather than focusing on the commercialization of Christmas as a negative, let’s learn from what the stores do right: let’s prepare our hearts, anticipate His arrival, and extend the celebration throughout the coming year.

Lord, sometimes preparing our hearts in advance for Christmas is difficult, but we don’t want it to be that way. Build within us an excitement that cannot be contained and which overflows into the coming year.

What can you do to build excitement and anticipation for the coming season? How can you extend that after Christmas is over?