Back to work after a long weekend, I want to offer you a sprightly song: “Prepare Ye” by Marc Robinson. You can hear it at that link. We sang it in the second service yesterday with an excellent soloist.

In the first service, we heard a sermon about John the Baptist, which you often do at this time of the year. Why, the pastor asked, do we never have John the Baptist ornaments or a figure of John at the creche in his camel hair robes?

John would have been too young to travel to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, of course, but it’s true that we don’t always like to think of John the Baptist at this festive time of year. We want to think of decorations and packages and parties, and there’s John the Baptist, eating bugs and talking like a crazy person.

I was the liturgist, so I had read John’s whole “You brood of vipers!” speech aloud to the congregation just before the sermon. It’s not very festive.

Still, we should think about preparing our hearts for Christ as well as our homes for parties, if we’re Christians. If you’re not a Christian and are still observing Christmas, you might still benefit from observing Advent instead of plunging headlong into festivities. Whether it’s eating simply with your family in order to appreciate the Christmas feast, doing a bit more volunteer work so you can appreciate the gifts, mending fences with family members so you can enjoy holiday visits more, or exercising regularly in order to manage the stress, Advent is an excellent time to add a discipline or to simplify your life.