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Are you ready for the er… festive season? OK, I can say it now it’s November – Christmas?

I’m certainly not ready, but I’ve done lots of preparation. In Church, we know when our services will be; we’ve done the rotas so I know where I’ll be each day;  and many events are already in the diary. But there’s lots still to do. That got me thinking about the importance of preparation.

Baden Powell chose the Scout motto (perhaps in part to match his initials?), calling scouts to be prepared ‘in both mind and body to do your duty’. But there’s a big difference between being prepared for eventualities and prepared for events. So a trained and ready chef still has to prep the food; a football team must train of course, and then needs to prepare to play specific opponents; I may be trained in preaching, but still need to prepare every sermon, and especially if given without notes! Preparation is hard work, but it pays off in (hopefully) an elegant way. My dad used to say that, whatever you do, ‘if it looks like hard work, you haven’t worked hard enough!’.

Let’s take a leaf out of God’s book. What a wonderful earth God has prepared over billions of years, that it is just right for productivity of every kind. And an even more wonderful heaven is already prepared too (Revelation 21:2). At the start of the Christmas story (Luke 3:4) we hear of John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord Jesus, and calling us to prepare the way for Him in our own hearts. And Jesus by His life on earth prepared the way for us into the Kingdom of heaven.

But there’s a limit to how much we can prepare for eternal life in the Kingdom. It has to be more about general ‘Baden-Powell’ style preparedness than what we achieve, because our eternal future doesn’t depend on good works, but on God’s welcoming love. He’s done the preparation; we just need to accept that and be ready – and Jesus made that clear several times (Matthew 24:44; 25:10; Luke 121:35 etc). A key verse for me is from St. Peter’s 1st letter: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have’. If I can do that, I reckon my heart’s prepared, even if the rest of me isn’t!

So as we make preparations for Christmas, making sure everything’s ready to welcome and honour our families and friends, let’s also prepare our hearts to welcome God who has prepared the kingdom of heaven to honour us.

Yours in Jesus

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