Prepare for Christmas


Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas Day. The word Advent means coming. It affords all of us with the opportunity to prepare ourselves, to get ready for the Christ who is to come.

His coming 2000 years ago was a total surprise. No one expected him to come as a baby, born in a manger. Because God does such strange things, Christmas can easily be missed, today as then.

It was Edwin Markham who told the story of Old Conrad, a man who almost missed Christ's coming. In a dream he was told that Christ would come to visit him on Christmas Day. So he made lavish preparations and then with great expectancy waited for the knock, the opened door, the visit and at last the breaking of bread at the day's end.

As he waited a beggar drenched by the driving rain came by. Conrad invited him in until the rain stopped and as he left gave him a pair of shoes. A short time later an old woman stopped to rest. When she rose to go her way, Conrad gave her the loaf of wheaten bread from his table.

The day was slipping away. Old Conrad wondered if somehow he had misunderstood. Just then he heard a child crying and hurried to the door. There, just outside, stood a little girl who was lost and sobbing.

Forgetting his disappointment, he dried her tears, gave her the milk that was in the blue pitcher and soon she was smiling and happy again. Then he took her home to a mother frantic with fear.

The sun had gone down. Christmas Day had come to a close. Musing by his fire, Old Conrad whispered, "Lord, did you forget? You promised to come."

Softly through the twilight a voice spoke, "I kept my word. Three times I came to your door. I was the beggar without shoes, I was the woman old and gray, I was the little child so lost and all alone."

Then suddenly Old Conrad remembered the words. He had read them in The Gospel According to Matthew just the evening before: "As you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me."

Sunday begins the Season of Advent. It is such an important time. Remember, God does some mighty strange things. Keep awake; stay alert. Don't get so busy with preparations that you miss the Christ who is to come.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he served as senior minister for 23 years. He writes a column for several newspapers.

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2009-12-03 digital edition

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