Prepare the Way for the Lord!

This time of year in India is polluted in a frenzy of festivals. Imagine, if you can, Carnival season on steroids!  Everyone from Hindus to Muslims to Catholics and even Christians come out in force to celebrate a various range of different holidays. After all, in a country where millions of gods are worshiped there are nearly a million reasons to celebrate.

In September, we witnessed our streets fill with worshipers of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god, as giant eight foot tall idols were paraded to Mumbai’s beaches–in a sort of Mardi Gras fashion–to be dropped into the ocean. In October, we watched as young women, adorned in elaborately colorful costumes, danced trance-like in huge circles beckoning the Hindu goddess, Devi, to possess one of them. The last week in October we sat down with a Muslim family to dine on mutton curry, only hours after observing the goat being offered as a sacrifice during a holiday called Bakra Eid.

November brought Diwali, India’s largest and most well-known celebration. For this Festival of Lights, shop owners and devout followers of Hinduism participate in a ritualistic cleaning, not unlike America’s oh-so-enjoyable holiday Spring Cleaning, but with a religious slant.  As the first part of the five day celebration, worshipers clean every room of their house and work place, from ceiling to floor, in preparation for the coming of the goddess Laxmi.

And then we reach December. Similar to America, India has bought into the commercialism of the holiday as evident by the large reindeer displays, two story tall Christmas trees, and our personal favorite, creepy unrealistically white-faced Santa masks sold by street salesmen at nearly every major intersection. December is truly a month to be merry!

But this year, in the midst of the Carnival season chaos God spoke into my life. “Look,” He told me. “Look at all that they do for gods who cannot even hear or see or speak. Look at how they prepare, how they expect that this holiday may be the one to finally bring communion and blessing and hope.” And He asked me one question, “What do you do to prepare for me?”

Of course, the proper response is not some sort of spiritual spring cleaning or ritualistic display. But with Christmas approaching I can’t help but think of Jesus’ birth and the preparations made for his arrival. Scripture speaks specifically of one preparer, John the Baptizer:

And he will go as forerunner before the Lord… to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him (Luke 1:17).

I challenge you to join with me in asking, “What can we do this year to prepare for Him?” How can we, while adorning our homes and trees with Christmas lights, actually be the light? Is there time, in the midst of frantic gift purchasing and exchanging, to speak to someone about the greatest Gift of all? Can we, instead of just sending out Christmas cards, spend time getting to know the family next door? This year can we stop making Christmas about going to church and actually be the church in the lives of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers?

Because, unlike the eight foot statues of Ganesh now decomposing in Mumbai’s waterways, our God can hear and see and speak.  How much more should we, the children of the King, be certain of his communion, blessing, and hope in our lives? He desires hearts that are open and lives that are surrendered to Him. This Christmas may Vintage be a people prepared, ready for the Lord!

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