The buzzer sounded signaling that the cookies were ready to be removed from the oven. Finally, the last tray! Six hours earlier I had begun the task of making cut-out, Christmas cookies. Oh, the zeal! Wow, such enthusiasm! Gee, the joy! At least, that was the emotion that emoted before six hours of measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting, baking, and cooling 350 cookies.
The job was done. The kitchen floor was dotted with flour; the countertop was gummy from dough. The front of my blouse looked like I worked behind the scenes for Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, or Paula Deen. (Sure, these stars of the food cooking networks may always appear clean, neat, and tidy; but I know that back in the kitchen there are some go-to-it guys with spotted and stained aprons just like mine.)
I wanted to sit down and moan. Oh, the ache in my arches! Wow, the pain in my lower back! Gee, the stiffness between my shoulders! At least, that was the physical condition that emanated after the don’t-stop-baking-until-there-are-enough-cookies-for all-the-kids-and-grandkids-to-decorate vigil.
Yet trophies abounded. Sugar cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees, stars, ornaments, holly leaves, candles, snowmen, packages, and even Santa’s hat lined the counters, the tables, and the stove top. Diva chefs, match that! I had prepared the way for the main event. Tomorrow the family will gather to ice, decorate, and adorn the shapes. The bland-colored trees will be turned green; snowmen will be decked with a top hat and scarf; and each design will come to life with bright frosting. Our traditional cut-out cookie marathon was made ready because I prepared the way.
“Prepare ye the way.” There is a phrase that all those who are familiar with the birth and ministry of Jesus will recognize. According to scripture, many amazing miracles accompanied that first Christmas event. One supernatural occurrence was connected with a man name John the Baptist, who was titled the forerunner of Jesus. His mother Elizabeth was barren and advanced in age. Before Elizabeth’s cousin Mary conceived the baby Jesus, the angel Gabriel announced to Elizabeth and Zacharias, her husband, that they would have a child.
Elizabeth and Zacharias prepared a way for John. They conceived him according to God’s Word, raised him in the nurture of God’s Word, and launched him on destiny’s course as had been foretold by God’s Word. Although we are not given all the details, I am sure that everyday tedium pulled both parents away from the “Wow, a baby” to the “Gee, more work” stage. Yet, they made ready the path of their son.
When his day arrived, John traveled throughout the region preparing a way for the ministry of Christ, the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. Surely the elation of his destiny waned occasionally as it was confronted by the reality of hardships. However, he called his listeners to make room for Jesus in their hearts and lives.
John’s ministry can still speak to us this Christmas. Of all the events that shift us from sheer excitement to plain old labor during this season, no holiday preparation holds more importance than opening our hearts to receive the Christ Child. If we do, we will find that trophies will abound. Lives cut out after the pattern of eternity will be decorated with love, joy and peace. Destinies will take the shape of God’s Word and be adorned with blessing from on high. As Christmas approaches – “Prepare Ye the Way!”