Preparation is an important theme of Advent, and something that helps us regain our focus. Good preparation allows us do a better job. It ensures that we are ready for something important. It helps us keep our focus on things that matter, and to be ready when they come. Preparation anticipates the future, allowing us to face its opportunities or challenges in a positive, helpful way. When someone is prepared, their response to change, crisis, or opportunity may look effortless, like it comes naturally. It’s not effortless, but those who are prepared make it seem that way because they were ready. Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare to receive visitors, to cook meals, to give gifts, and to celebrate. When we feel unprepared, stress rises and we may feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to enjoy Christmas when we feel that way. God called John the Baptist to prepare people for the coming of Christ. When John was born, his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. Zechariah’s words in Luke 1:68–79 praise God for his faithfulness and prophesy about John’s work. John will be a prophet who will “go before the Lord to prepare his way.” How will he do that? By proclaiming the work of Christ, giving knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of sins, announcing the tender mercy of God, the light of grace shining on those in darkness and the shadow of death, and peace with God. What an amazing message! John was not the one who gave these gifts. He proclaimed God’s gifts, and he prepared others for the Messiah. How? By calling to them: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” He called for self-examination, reflection, and repentance. He called for hearts to return to God, to watch for him, and to eagerly await the fulfillment of his mercy. When God’s promise to send the Messiah was fulfilled, John pointed to his Lord – to our Lord – identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And then he receded. Pointing others to Jesus, he recognized his Lord. John’s ministry soon concluded with his martyrdom, but Jesus’ unending ministry had begun among his people. Advent is a season of preparation. Then again, so is life. John the Baptist’s message still calls us to prepare. Our Lord comes to us, and he will come again. By his Spirit, prepare your heart. Prepare your life. Hear his word, repent, and be strengthened by his Gospel. Daily we prepare, and daily our Lord comes with his salvation, forgiveness, mercy, light, life, and peace. As you prepare, know that Jesus also is preparing for us this Advent. He promises, In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2). While we may struggle, he is truly prepared and ready for us. Preparation is so important. Are you ready? Come, Lord Jesus.