John the Baptist had a mission. It's easy to miss. "In the spirit and power of Elijah" ... drumroll - we wait for the awesome task he'll be given ... the Baptist is called "to turn the hearts of fathers toward children," says Luke.
Hmmm, that seems almost out of place, does it not? Do not fathers automatically have a strong paternal tendency to love their children? Is this not a given? Why is John the Baptist's mission to teach fathers to love their children? And that, as preparation for Christ's coming - Christmas?
Fathers (and mothers) have this instinct which they do not second question. They love fondling, cooing at, holding cheek to cheek, feeding, and cuddling their infant - whatever it takes to make their baby happy. Many would readily agree that making a baby smile brings great joy to the heart.
But that's just it - it's instinctual, they LIKE doing it. They go through the motions without needing to give it a second thought.
Which is exactly what the Jews of those times were dealing with - what they definitely had to change in order to prepare for Christ's coming. Maybe they were already ACTING well, following all the precepts of the law, yet John was called to "prepare a people fit for the Lord."
Good actions are good. But they are meaningless if they are lived with routine - without that extra desire of the heart.
So yes, as Christmas approaches, keep baking, decorating, buying and wrapping. Do send out those last minute Christmas cards. Continue to use that Advent calendar during these last 6 days of preparation. However, make sure that daddy or mommy instinct or yours goes beyond the external actions. Let also your "hearts be turned toward the Christ-child" - as you go through your day.
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