Advent | Day 19

Thursday, December 15

  • Psalms 33, 50
  • Zechariah 4.1-14
  • Revelation 4.9-5.5
  • Matthew 25.1-13

My extended family has an interesting Christmas Eve tradition. Instead of buying gifts for everyone in the family, each person brings one item according to a theme (gift cards, kitchen gadgets, As Seen On TV items, etc.). On Christmas Eve, after the service at church, we all gather by the Christmas tree. There are about twenty of us there each year, and we draw numbers to play a White Elephant/Dirty Santa gift exchange. The point of the exchange is to open up the wrapped gifts one-by-one, but a family member with a higher number can steal any gift already unwrapped. If you are not paying attention, you cannot know what has already been opened. The perfect gift card (say, Target) could have been opened already by your cousin, but you missed it and instead unwrapped one for which you don’t have any use (say, Home Depot). You can’t steal the Target card; you don’t know your cousin already opened it. You were not prepared. If you leave the room to refill your apple cider or grab a piece of fudge, you could miss the unveiling of the most important gift card.

Every Christmas Eve, I make sure I am well prepared for the gift exchange. Before we begin I refill my drink and make a plate of snacks. I pick a seat with a good view and prop myself on its edge. I don’t want to miss anything. I refuse to be unprepared.

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25, five of the virgins were unprepared. They knew what was coming. They knew who was coming. They knew what they needed for their wait. Yet they were foolish. Those five virgins did not have enough oil for their lamps. They missed the coming of the bridegroom. Their chance was gone.

The parable refers to the Second Coming, but it holds significance for us as we prepare for Christmas. The Advent season involves preparation. We prepare our hearts and minds to consider again just what it means for us that God sent God’s Son as a baby on Christmas Day two thousand years ago. The season can easily catch us unprepared because we are so involved in our busy, ordinary lives. I challenge you to make preparation a part of your ordinary life. Do not let yourself be caught unawares, unprepared. Do not let the most important gift card pass by you.

Kelsey Spinnato
Junior, Biblical Languages, English and Honors Major

You can access an online version of the 2011 Advent Guide (presented annually be Belmont’s School of Religion) at:




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