We’d love to share Advent thoughts with you this month through our blog Igniting Hope. “Make Ready” our theme for December, will come to your inbox each Tuesday. If you’d like to continue receiving them into January you can sign up here, otherwise you will just receive these through the Christmas season. Our hope is to encourage you and give you a chance to pause and reflect on Christ’s coming. Thanks so much for looking with us for his coming!
Recently one of Thomas Merton’s poems was given to me. Not a long verse, but a short little thing that caught my attention as surely as print on this page.
by Thomas Merton
Make ready for Christ,
Sets free the song of everlasting glory
That now sleeps
In your paper flesh,
A smile like lightning. Flesh fragile like paper. His song…the one of everlasting glory sleeping inside me just waiting to go off like dynamite.
It makes me wonder, what does a lightning smile look like and how does one come to see it?
What does Christ’s song sound like and how does one come to hear it?
What happens in the thin-ness of our flesh when Christ song ignites?
The answer to all those questions seems to be in that first line: “Make ready for Christ.”
As we enter this season of waiting and watching, preparing, thinking of gifts others might like, I wonder what it would be like to live for a while on this idea that we are making ready for Christ.
It begs the question, what does that look like on you?
I remember one Advent season sitting in a hot overly stuffy and crowded waiting room in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We had been to the emergency room a number of times with asthmatic kids. The schedule was tight, the wait was long, I was behind on being ready for Christmas in any regard, and I was tired. Ironically, American Christmas music played over the speakers. On came the song about “preparing a place for Jesus this Christmas.” Inside my heart anger swelled until I thought it would suffocate me. I was so mad. “Prepare you a place?!” “With everything you’ve put us through, I think you should prepare your own place! I don’t know why you need me to do it!” It felt relieving to be honest in the moment. It felt terrible later on.
Make ready for Christ. Surely it begins right where we’re at. To share with God honestly and genuinely what we feel about the days he’s given us…where we resent the fragility of the flesh, where we’re skeptical because we haven’t heard his song in a long time and aren’t sure we ever will again. Yes. Share all that with him.
Share with him your excitement to be reunited with family, the joy of having found a great deal on a wonderful gift, the sense of well-being as the smell of cookies begins to permeate your home. Share all that with him. That’s how we start. Making ready begins by acknowledging what it looks like right where you’re at. For now, that’s enough.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
–James 4:8 NASB 1995