Planning for the holidays this season is no longer a marathon, but decidedly a sprint. Thanksgiving steadily dims in our rearview mirrors as Christmas sale signs clamor for our attention at every oncoming turn. We know the drill. Creating survival tactics over the years hones our skills, sharpens our focus and manages our time to maximum potential. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around we will be ready for anything. We will have replacement batteries, extra storehouses of food, sleeping arrangements for surprise guests and bonus supplies of Scotch tape, ribbon and wrapping paper. And plenty of egg nog.

People do still drink egg nog, right?

Things I will be missing this year: my aunt's homemade peanut brittle, my mother's stuffing, the Christmas windows at the old H.C. Prange department store and driving the streets of my hometown after dark to peruse the light displays on neighborhood houses. People in Cincinnati do put up lovely lights too, but at this time of year we are allowed to miss the exact moments and experiences that make our hearts swell and our eyes tear a little with holiday joy.

You see, it is Advent. It is time to prepare for a gift we already know is coming.

Quite the luxury, isn't it? How many times in our lives can we say with certainty that a gift is coming, let alone a gift of such magnitude that its potential is to change our lives each moment of every day we reside here on earth? God's coming into the world to be with us, hand-in-hand, loving us only because we belong to God, offered to us on a silver platter each year as a reminder of how important each and every one of us is to the world. Most of us aren't counting on receiving an inheritance of great material magnitude from our parents after they have passed on, let alone while they are still living. How generous it is of God, then, to share the very kingdom of heaven with us wrapped up in the life of the One we call Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.

An old hymn I love asks, how will we receive and welcome our Savior? If we know that someone is coming into our lives, for a visit or a long-term stay, how to we prepare for their arrival and make them feel a part of our household? If we clear space, make room and ask what we can do to make them more comfortable. We open our minds and hearts to what they may need, taking the focus off of our own ideas of what matters or what we think should be happening. We also recognize that adjustments will be necessary, especially if the guest is staying for an extended time. Figuring out mealtimes, laundry and bathroom schedules and what television programs to watch seem trivial only if you haven't lived through their negotiations. Putting someone else first in your own home isn't easy. But what you get back is beyond measure.

Putting Advent, making room for God With Us, first on your holiday to do list means you are seeking the kingdom of heaven as your inheritance above all else, something Jesus spoke of frequently in his ministry. Now is the time to consider building up treasure in heaven. Now is the time to look at who Jesus showed himself to be in his life on earth.

Jesus made room for a wide variety of people in his life. He mostly hosted those for whom no one else had time, money, patience or even minimal consideration. Convenience rarely entered into how he met or interacted with those coming to him for help, guidance or healing.

But the kingdom of heaven is rarely convenient. The kingdom of heaven makes its own way when we allow God to work through our lives. Messy, inconvenient, distracting, time consuming and tedious though it may be to host this God and this God's kingdom in our lives, what you inherit in return is beyond measure.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting and downloading your complimentary copy of the new Special Report, "7 Ways To Bring Authentic, Meaningful Faith Into Your Daily Life."