The Call Of Christmas Part 1: A Call To Prepare 


On Sunday 4th December at our morning service, we started our Christmas series 'The Call Of Christmas' with the topic 'A Call To Prepare'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.

To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.

Talk Summary

Advent is the season where we PREPARE. We are to prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus.

Now I don’t know but I’m guessing lots of us have at one time or another had to prepare for the arrival of a baby. My own experience of the birth of my first son, Samson, was that I thought I was prepared but as it turned out I really wasn’t prepared for the reality!

Have you ever had to prepare for something big? Ever felt really unprepared for something – even something you really wanted and perhaps prayed for?

As we prepare for Christmas and the arrival of Jesus, we may reflect on how we normally prepare for the arrival of a baby.  We prepare the nursery and we prepare gifts.

How can we prepare for Jesus?

You may say I’m not sure about all this stuff – I’m not prepared to accept Jesus.

You may say I am sure, but I’m also sure I’m not good enough for Jesus.

In the New Testament part of the bible there is an account written by Luke, a doctor who was quite meticulous in producing an orderly account of the life of Jesus, basing it on eyewitness accounts.

In the first part of Luke’s account, there is the story of a priest called Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. They had been praying for a child but were both old and it seemed highly unlikely that they would ever be blessed with a child.

In their culture this would have seemed like a curse – God had, it seemed, withheld this blessing of a child and there would have been shame attached to this for them.

One day, Luke reports, Zechariah has an amazing encounter with an angel named Gabriel, who tells him very clearly that his prayer has been heard and will be answered. Despite his age and Elizabeth’s age, they will have a baby, who will be set aside by God and filled with the Holy Spirit even before birth. Indeed, the child would be named John and would go on to be known as John the Baptist, who was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus and even baptised Jesus!

However, Zechariah was not prepared for this news and even though he had been praying for a baby he seemed to disbelieve Gabriel. As a result, he is struck dumb during the pregnancy – Gabriel seems pretty annoyed with him!

We can read this story in chapter 1 of Luke’s gospel. You can read this by clicking here.

The message for us in this passage is this: Though your prayer is odd… prepare for God.

I mean, it’s an interesting, even amazing, story and we could ponder all sorts of details within it but I think the application for us today is this: if you’re praying for something, you better believe God might deliver – so be prepared for it. Recognise it when you see it.  Zechariah’s prayer was odd – he prayed for a child but didn’t seem to think it possible God would deliver. And yet… God did deliver.

So, I repeat: Though your prayer is odd… prepare for God.

This Advent, as you prepare for Christmas (Jesus’s birth, his arrival) might you also think about preparing for His arrival in your life?

How do we prepare for the arrival of a child? We prepare the nursery and we prepare gifts. But the only person who can fully prepare us for Jesus… is Jesus.

Therefore, this is something to prepare for by praying for. We prepare for it by praying for it – but we should not be surprised if that prayer is answered! Be prepared for the prayer to be answered.

We may say we’re not good enough. Neither were the fish and the loaves with which Jesus fed 5000 men and the women and children besides. But with Jesus, that which was not enough became more than enough.

Not special enough? Neither was the water Jesus turned into wine. But with Jesus, that which was insufficient became more than sufficient.

We may say our heart’s not big enough, or good enough, or clean enough to accept Jesus.

Well neither was the manger. But it was all He needed to make a beginning. 

How do we prepare for the arrival of a child? We prepare the nursery and we prepare gifts.

All Jesus needs is an invitation into our heart. That is the nursery and the gift we can prepare for him this Christmas. An invitation into our heart. So perhaps you might pray this prayer during this season of Advent.

“Oh Lord, make my heart a manger where the Christ child can be born”

And be prepared for that prayer to be answered. In ways that not only bless you (as the baby John was a blessing to Zechariah and Elizabeth) but who knows what bigger purposes God might have in store for you? Who knows what blessings God may bring through you? John was more than a blessing to his parents – God had a purpose for him to prepare the way for others to meet Jesus. That’s a call for each of us who would be a follower of Jesus – to prepare the way for Jesus in others’ lives.

“Oh Lord, make my heart a manger where the Christ child can be born”

An invitation into our heart - the nursery and the gift we can prepare for him this Christmas.

And though the prayer is odd…. Prepare for God.

Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)

1    What strikes you about Zechariah’s story and how it might apply to you as you prepare for Christmas?

2    Hebrews 13:2 says “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (NIV). Do you believe in angels – and if so what’s your understanding of them? Have you perhaps         had an encounter with one?

3    Why do you think Zechariah was struck dumb?

4    Is there something “odd” you have been wanting and praying for in your life and are you really prepared for the possibility that God may answer? 

5    How are you preparing for Christmas –and Jesus – really?

6    Do you believe that Jesus can indeed make a beginning in your heart and (if you believe he already has) are you “…confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)?       If so, are you willing to pray into this during Advent?


Simon Lace, 09/12/2016