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When people tell me that I need to prepare for something, normally that involves doing a bunch of stuff.

Preparing to play in a sporting event? I need to do stretches and practice and discuss strategy.

Preparing to host people in our home? I need to wash dishes and clean floors and prepare food.

Preparing to go on vacation? I need to plan routes and get maintenance done on the vehicle and pack.

As we move through advent we are preparing for Christmas - for the celebration and reminder of God in the flesh entering into our world. As we prepare there is some doing involved. In fact, much of preparing Christmas in our world is doing. We do Christmas shopping. We do all that is necessary to plan for family gatherings and work gatherings and church gatherings. We set the stage for all of the events and activities that make up this time of year.

But I hope and pray that this Christmas you will be able to "do" more than just "doing." Christmas isn't really about events or gifts or even about family. Those are wonderful things, but they can all be enjoyed in ways that completely miss out on "God with us." Even at Christmas - perhaps especially at Christmas - activity can be the enemy of intimacy. And it is a relationship, to be with us that God is really reaching for through the baby born a little over 2,000 years ago.

May we each make time to stop doing. To set down the vacuum and light a candle, enjoying God's presence in the silence. To leave the hustle and bustle of stores playing Christmas songs and stroll down a trail listening to the sounds of God's world. To linger at the table and leave the dishes for a few minutes (or hours) and revel in the laughter of loved ones. To sit unhurriedly with the story of Christmas as shared in scripture - not to "get something out of it," but simply to spend time with the one who wants to be with us.

Advent is about preparing for Christmas. In the midst of preparing all that is around us, may we not neglect the preparation of the life inside of us for the king, born as a baby, who wants to meet us there.

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