Practice saying “yes” during Advent

While my wife, Jennifer, and I were celebrating Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family in Indianapolis, I got a voice message from an old friend saying that her mother had died and asking if I would be willing to officiate at a Saturday graveside service. I had officiated at her father’s funeral 7 years ago.

My friend said her mom was failing but she hadn’t expected her to die yet. She apologized and said she was sorry it was such a late notice. (Whoever said death was convenient?) Still, she said this being a holiday weekend she certainly wanted me to be free to say “no.” 

“I really mean that,” she said at the end of her voicemail.

Well, I said yes. It was not inconvenient, and I am so glad I agreed to officiate. The writer of Ecclesiastes says it’s always better to go to a funeral than a party because death is the destiny of everyone. Attending funerals or graveside services is a good reminder of that. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Saying “yes” always is a good practice when you can. So, I am wondering, what, or to whom, do you need to say “yes” to during this Advent season?

The virgin Mary said “yes” to the angel. “Behold, I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.”

Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, heard about her “yes” and he said “no,” at first. He would privately divorce Mary and try and cause her no shame. But his “no” quickly became “yes.” Soon an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him the real story, reminding Joseph of the prophecy in Isaiah: “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him ‘Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.’”

Joseph awoke and immediately said “yes.”

The Apostle Paul writes about the grandest, most ultimate, yes of all. It was, of course, the universe-resounding “yes” by Jesus himself. In one of the most beautiful Christological passages in the Bible, Paul says that Jesus, though in the very form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used to his advantage. Instead, he emptied himself, was born as a human and took on the form of a servant. As a human, Jesus then humbled himself and was obedient to the point of death – death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-11)

What a definitive, critical, history-altering “yes.”

So, what is it, or to whom is it, that you need to say “yes” to this Advent season?

Have you made promises you haven’t delivered on? 

Do you need to call someone and set the record straight?

Maybe you need to quit blaming yourself so much and say “yes” to being kinder to that person you take with you wherever you go.

You get the idea …

So, here’s your assignment on this second day of Advent. Make a short list of people or things to whom you need to say “yes” in the days leading up to Christmas.

If you need a courage, just remember what the angels are fond of saying this time of year: “Do not be afraid.”

You won’t regret saying “yes.”