Are you ready to receive what God is offering this Christmas?
Most of us have heard of Billy Graham. Since the 1950s, Dr. Graham has conducted hundreds of evangelistic crusades throughout the world. Most of us have seen him preach on TV; we've seen how thousands walk the aisle in that moment of decision.
But what few of us realize is the amount of preparation that goes in to bringing Billy Graham to a city. Only after extensive research is a crusade placed on the calendar, and that's most often done years in advance. And then Graham representatives come to the city and begin to work in the community months in advance. They put in countless hours promoting the crusade. Thousands of counselors are trained. Hundreds of prayer meetings are held. All this takes place because they believe that, without preparation, the event itself will fail. It's no different with Christmas. In order for the event of Christmas to be successful, there has to be some preparation.
Some of us may have written off Christmas. Maybe it brings up too many old issues for us. Maybe we're sick of the commercialization of it all. Maybe we're the kind of Christian who feels like every day ought to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, so why make such a big deal out of December 25?
I can identify with some of those feelings. But I'm not ready to give up on Christmas. I'm not ready to give up on it because, as creatures bound in time and space, we need real time and space markers in our lives that remind us of the great events that define our faith. But I also believe that, if our Christmas is to be spiritually successful, we're going to have to fight for it. And the way to do that is through preparation.
That's why we talk about this strange thing called Advent starting four weeks prior to Christmas. Advent ...
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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.