Summary: Advent is a time a preparation. A time to prepare to celebrate the birth of our savior, and to prepare our hearts and minds for the second coming of Christ

Christmas is 16 days away. Does your pulse go up when you hear that? You have 16 days to buy your gifts, wrap them, finish decorating, plan and shop for a meal, finalize any travel plans, and or clean your house before your company arrives. Christmas will be here before you know it, and almost everyone is doing something today or will do something in the coming days to prepare for the biggest holiday for the year. You are no doubt aware by now that this is my favorite time of the year. My apartment is all decorated, I have a few presents bought, and I have most of my Christmas plans all planned out. Hopefully, by this time next week I will be totally prepared for this special holiday. Yet, as I think of the word holiday, it makes me wonder if I have the right mind set as I prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The word holiday is actually the combination of two words: Holy and day. Here in America we have all kinds of holidays that are not holy like Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, and Labor Day. I have nothing against those holidays, but there is nothing holy about them and calling them holidays kind of changes the meaning of the original meaning of the word holiday. The church still has holy days, but it seems as if the secular world has stolen our holy days and made them into something that is not..well holy.

There is a Christmas song that I have grown to love over the years because it always reminds me that this should be one of the holiest times of the year. It is a song my Trisha Yearwood called Walk Through Bethlehem. Don’t worry, I am not going to sing it, but I do want you to hear the words. I would like you to close your eyes and get a mental picture as I read these lyrics. It is hard for me to keep my eyes close, so I understand if you can’t but I want you to lets these words sink into your heart and mind.

The city's decorated up for Christmas. All the stores are open late tonight. People hurry through the frozen streets I take a walk.

Every child has a thousand wishes. Every window has a thousand lights. Every soul has a need for peace. I take a walk.

There's a star that still outshines the night. You can find it if you close your eyes. And see the light.

Take a walk through Bethlehem. Come and kneel before the Lamb. Good news for every man. Walk through Bethlehem.

Every night another TV special. Merchants counting down the shopping days. But something's missing underneath the tree. I take a walk.

'Cause every heart longs for more than tinsel. Something more than just a holiday. Come and celebrate the baby King. Let's take a walk.

You don't have to travel anywhere. Faith and hope and love will bring you there. Take a walk-through Bethlehem. Come and kneel before the Lamb

Good news for every man. Walk through Bethlehem...

This morning’s Gospel lesson and Old Testament reading are about John the Baptist. John the Baptist was given one mission in life, and that was to prepare the way for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I preached on John the Baptist back in July, but today I want to revisit this special Holy man, and his role in the Christmas story. There are somethings we can learn from John the Baptist’s life, mission, and personality that can teach us how to prepare our hearts both to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and for the second coming of Christ. So, on this second Sunday of Advent let John the Baptist guide us as we prepare to celebrate the holy day of Christmas.

Our old testament reading this morning comes from the book of Isiah. Isaiah 40 is just one of the few chapters in the Old Testament that foretells the coming of both John the Baptist and Jesus. John the Baptist is the voice calling in the wilderness that Isaiah writes about in verse 3 of chapter 40. In fact, Luke quotes Isaiah in this mornings Gospel text. Luke begins chapter three of his Gospel by telling us when John the Baptist began his ministry, but because we know when Pontius Pilate was governor, and we know when the high priesthoods of Annas and Caiphas were most scholar agree that John began his public ministry sometime between September of A.D. 27 and October of A.D. 28. If you remember, last week I told you that most scholars think that Jesus was born in 4BC. Therefore, in the years of 27 and 28 both John the Baptist and Jesus were around 30 years old. We know that John the Baptist and Jesus were born within months of each other because Luke wrote about a time when Mary, who was six months pregnant with Jesus, went to see Elizabeth who was her cousin. In Luke 1:41 Luke records that when Mary entered Elisabeth’s house the baby John the Baptist leaped in the womb. Even before he was born, John the Baptist new that his mission in life was to point other people to Jesus.

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