The Hour Has Come
by Debbie Holloway
“The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Christmas Eve is a special, ritualistic time for many families, especially ones with young children. Children have an almost tangible energy and near-breathless excitement for the festivities of the next day. Parents have all the gifts wrapped and hidden in secret closets, simply awaiting nightfall to relocate to their resting place beneath the Christmas tree. Finally, after too many Christmas treats, laying out milk and cookies for Santa, a recitation of T’was The Night Before Christmas and perhaps a reading from the book of Luke, the kids are tucked in bed.
The work has been done. No more shopping, no more wrapping, no more commanding the children to stop poking around their parents’ bedroom. Preparations have been made. And in the morning, what a glorious day Christmas day will be!
The second candle of advent is called the Bethlehem Candle, and it is known as the candle of preparation. We are still near the beginning of advent, with a few weeks to prepare our hearts for the Lord’s coming. For indeed, not only do we commemorate his first coming on December 25th, but we also know that he will come again. Will we make preparations for our Messiah, just as we make preparations for Old St. Nick?
Will we spread peace and goodwill, as the angels did on the evening of Christ’s birth? Will we offer even the lowliest parts of our lives up to God, as the farm animals made room for him amongst their beds and feeding troughs? Will we sacrifice unto him even our most precious treasures, as the Magi did after many months, perhaps even years, of travel? Will we “wake from sleep,” as Paul exhorts, and prepare for salvation?
Much preparation is needed to make our lives reflect Christ, and we may feel small and unprepared for such a task. Take comfort, then, that Bethlehem was also considered too small for God’s work. As we light the Bethlehem Candle, remember the ultimate significance of this tiny town of shepherds and stables:
“But you, Bethlehem…though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel” (Micah 5:2).
Intersecting Faith and Life
As advent moves on, and Christmas draws closer, prepare your heart to be a Bethlehem for Christ: a place for him dwell and accomplish his work through you.