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Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

1. The season before Christmas matters

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.  

• God always has appointed times

Speak to the Israelites and tell them: These are my appointed times, the times of the LORD that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season…

• This season, God has an appointment with you.

2. Preparation precedes celebration. 

• Preparation is our time to confront darkness

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

“So dark is our situation that God himself must enter and occupy it in order that it may be light. We cannot fully understand the Christian ‘God with us’ without the greatest astonishment at the glory of the divine grace and greatest horror at our own plight.” - Karl Barth 

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

• Preparation is a statement of faith

Sing the praises of the Lord, you His faithful people; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

3. Preparation requires action

And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to

seek the Lord.

3 questions for this Christmas: 

1. How can I create an unhurried approach to Christmas? 

“Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have.” - John Ortberg

Ways to intentionally slow down:

  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Get into the slow lane.
  • Show up ten minutes early for an appointment, sans phone.
  • Get in the longest checkout line at the grocery store.
  • Keep your phone off until after your morning quiet time.
  • Single-task. Do only one thing at a time.
  • Walk slower.

2. As I slow down, what is God saying to me during this season? 

3. What do I need to be honest with God about? 

Hidden Christmas | The Pace of Christmas