What do you within the confines of your house during the season of Advent as part of your preparations for Christmas?  I specifically narrowed the scope of this question within the confines of your house or apartment so as to not include other tasks during the holiday such as Christmas shopping, sending Christmas cards, etc.  From year to year, Sarah and I have made adjustments to what we do to our house but certainly hanging up Christmas lights around our trees and bushes, putting electric candles and lights on various window sills and the buying, setting up, and decorating of the Christmas tree are the major tasks we do to our house and lawn during the holidays.  We try to do the Christmas tree work toward the beginning of the holiday season.  All of this takes thoughtful planning and effort.

If this is true about what we do as part of the physical preparations for the holiday season, let me shift the focus to what spiritual preparations we should make in remembrance of and celebration of this season of Advent.  A major theme in this season of Advent is one of spiritual preparation as we remember our Lord’s coming into the world, as God the Son took on humanity.  We also look forward to Jesus Christ’s second coming to judge the living and the dead.  One parable that Jesus taught which has this theme of being prepared for His second Advent is the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13.  Our Lord speaks about 10 virgins, five who were wise or prudent, and five who were foolish.  This parable illustrates the need for being spiritually prepared until Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom, comes again.  The Kingdom of God is often portrayed as a marriage between Christ and His Church.  The marriage will be perfected and completed when Christ comes again to bring His bride to the wedding banquet.  We see in this passage that the call that the Bridegroom was approaching happened at midnight (Matthew 25:6-10).  The five virgins who had enough oil for their lamps, trimmed their lamps, and were ready when the bridegroom appeared, and they went with him into the place of the wedding and the door was shut.  The foolish virgins did not have sufficient oil for their lamps and could not borrow any from the wise virgins.  While they were away, the bridegroom came, and they could not get into the wedding once the door was shut.  The warning from this parable is that a person cannot change his spiritual condition after his physical death or the 2nd Coming of Christ.  There is also another important principle taught here.  In this life, each person is accountable and responsible to repent of their sin and believe the Gospel of Christ.  No one can believe for you or in your place.  Since no one knows the time of our Lord’s return, we must be ready now, and that preparation means we must repent and believe the Gospel today and persevere in our trust in the Lord. To persevere in our trust in God includes our need to take a regular inventory of our hearts and lives so that we clear out that which is wrong and harmful in our priorities and in our actions.  It requires the daily discipline of confessing to the Lord where we have missed the mark of His will and commandments and asking for His help and strength to live in obedience to God’s moral will.  May our Lord give us clarity and determination to keep our focus on Christ as Lord during this holiday season and throughout the year.  The parable shows us the urgency of not postponing to a more “convenient” time being right with God through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.