With the first Sunday of Advent behind us, and the supply of leftover turkey and dressing dwindling down, the coming of Christmas is becoming more and more real as the days go by. For those of you who aren’t keeping count, Christmas Eve is 3 weeks from today! This is the perfect time of the year to begin to reflect, recall, and remember all that took place in the months before. The Calendar year is drawing to a close, and the Christian year is just beginning. Whether we like it or not, Christmas is coming; December 25th will come just like it always has. The time is now for us to begin to prepare…

Prepare our minds – try to clear our heads of the stress and chaos of bouncing from one family event to the next. To cope with the increased traffic, larger crowds at stores, psyching ourselves up for “that” family member and their comments and conversations around the table.

Prepare our homes – Cleaning, hanging lights, putting red bows and greenery on anything that will stand still long enough, baking sweets and goodies to be prepared for those drop in guests, finishing up that “honey do” list before everyone comes over for the big dinner.

Prepare our hearts – Advent is literally defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”. As Christians, it is a time set aside for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ into the world. We focus on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love….all of which Christ brought into the world when he was born in that manger.

Nativity scenes are rampant in homes, businesses, and town squares this time of year. Depictions of cattle, sheep, wise men, the manger and barn, Joseph, Mary, and the baby in the manger. It is a familiar scene for most of us, but it serves as a great reminder for us of the humble entrance that our Savior made into this world some 2000 years ago.

Chris’ wife Robyn asked him to paint a nativity scene for their home last year. This painting was the result that came. I like the way that he shows the stable distant and separated from the rest of the town. It reinforces that there was no real room for the family as they came into the busy town of Bethlehem. No real preparation or “getting ready” for them at all. It’s a great reminder of the gift that God gave us, even when the world hadn’t prepared a place for her King.

My hope is that this, and every year, each of us will be able to slow down, reflect on the blessings, and prepare a place in our hearts for the coming of Jesus into our lives, just as he came into that Bethlehem stall years ago. May we seek him out, like the wise men did, worship him, as the shepherds came and did, and hold him close to our hearts, much like I am sure the Virgin Mary did on that first night.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

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