As the night darkens even deeper and we retire to the comfort of our homes, to our families and eventually, to our well deserved rest, groups of workers take to the streets and malls of Orchard Road. Some of them were painting the car park ceiling in Takashimaya, some were polishing the floor of the malls and others were changing the large poster advertisements in front of the specialty shops. There was yet another group of workers along the streets; they were washing the pathways with jets of water, laying out the many rows of Christmas lights and thereafter, hanging these lights up on the lamp posts, etc. A supervisor was speaking with one of his workers, discussing the overall looks of the decorations and how the arrangement of the lights was so fitting; They were pleased with the work done.
Looking at the mesmerizing blue lights and the stars hanging from the trees, the bright yellow lights on the malls and the reflection of lights off the wet floor, it is difficult to walk pass without feeling that little spark in our hearts that all the lights and decorations were intended to create - the Christmas mood.
Soon enough, the malls will have all their decorations up and shining, gift wrapping services available, gift packs up on offer and the all familiar Christmas carols to inject that Christmas mood in every heart. Crowds of people will invade the malls to clear their shopping lists, all in the spirit of preparing for one of the best days of the year.
How is Christmas different for Christians? After all, it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, whom we believe is our Lord and God. How do we prepare for this celebration then? Do we, like everyone, flock to the malls to do our Christmas shopping? If this is how we prepare for Christmas, how are we any different from the non-believers? Have we really paused to consider what this birth of Jesus mean, to appreciate and feel the deep gratitude of the many sacrifices and hardships that were borne to bring Him into this world by His parents, and it's direct impact on our own salvation? Have we stared too much at the glimmer of the lights that blot out our vision of what Christmas really is about?
We are called to prepare for Christmas in a different way from that of the secular world. We are invited to an Advent season of preparing our hearts for our Lord's birth, that we will open the door to our hearts for Him to be born in it, and to deepen our love and longing for Him so that this period will be one of eager anticipation to receive Him more fully into our hearts and into our lives. We can prepare our hearts more fully by purifying it; to be more aware of our sins and weaknesses and making the deliberate effort to choose God and against sin. This is the best gift for the Birthday Boy, who is, most ironically, the most forgotten on His own birthday.
If these blue lights up at Orchard Road can bring a spark of cheer and warmth in our hearts and get us all excited over the festive season, can you imagine just how much more joy, peace, excitement and love the light of Christ will ignite in our hearts if we allow Him to be born in our hearts anew this Christmas?
The secular world knows how to put up decorations before kicking off the Christmas season, so that when the season finally begins, everything is in place for everyone to partake in the festive spirit. Being two weeks before the start of Advent, it is fitting for us to begin our spiritual preparation for this season too. We can do so by spending some time to consider how we want to prepare, during this Advent, for the birth of Christ in our hearts this year. So that when Advent begins on 28 November, we are well aware and ready to journey in those four Advent weeks leading up to Christ's birthday. Prepare for Advent, so that we can better prepare for Christmas. Let this Christmas be focused on Jesus, the real birthday Boy.
09 November 2010, Tuesday