Day Twenty: Aligning Our Hearts

December 20, 2019
By Monica Barnette

By Monica Barnette

Luke 3:17-18 CEB

17 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18 With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people.

 These verses seem to have little to do with Advent. This is not a prophecy of Jesus’ birth from an Old Testament prophet. The verses aren’t particularly festive, either. Unless, maybe you consider “a fire that can’t be put out” something like a Yule log!

In this parable, John the Baptist speaks of a farmer sorting through his wheat harvest. The farmer uses a winnowing fork to sort the wheat that will be eaten or used for seed for next year. This good productive wheat will be stored. The non-productive chaff will be burned.

The message seems grim: repent or burn. It’s not that bad, though. The call for repentance is not a threat, but an urging for people’s hearts to align with God.

This actually has a lot to do with Advent. Advent is a season of preparing and getting ready to encounter the Messiah. John the Baptist is speaking to crowds of people and baptizing them to meet the Messiah, who will come after John. John the Baptist knew that his hearers would not appreciate the coming message of Jesus if their hearts weren’t in alignment with God.

The same message is true for us today. In order for us to receive the joy of Christmas, we need this time of Advent, this time of preparation, to ready our hearts. How is your heart? Is it open and ready for Jesus? Or, are you feeling remote and distant?

During Advent, it is easy to become consumed with plans and preparations, like making travel arrangements, buying presents, going to parties, buying special groceries, and decorating. None of these things is bad, but busyness can be a distraction. Let’s take this time of preparation to bring ourselves back into alignment with God. If we use this time of waiting and preparation as a time to empty our hearts of selfishness, envy, or worry, when Christmas arrives, there will be room in our hearts to receive Jesus. You will have a Christmas full of joy and wonder if you will take the time during Advent preparing yourself to encounter Emmanuel – God with us.