Prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 3:4 NRSV)
Most of us at one time or another have planted some flowers or vegetables in a garden. Before you can plant anything in the ground, you have to break up the ground and make it soft. That's what garden tools are for. A hoe, for example, digs down in the soil and breaks up the big chunks of dirt. Some farmers like to plant clover in their gardens for the same reason. Clover looks like a delicate flower on top, but it has really long, strong roots that dig deep into the soil and help to break it up and make it soft. If you try to plant on hard, unbroken ground, nothing will grow. You have to dig into the ground and prepare it before you plant the seeds.
In much the same way, we need to prepare our hearts in order to receive God's word. The Bible says that before Jesus' birth, John the Baptist went around preaching to the people and preparing them for Jesus. They needed to be ready to listen to Jesus and follow Him and trust Him. So John traveled all over telling people about Jesus and all the things He would do and say. In this way, John prepared the people's hearts for Jesus. By reading our Bible, praying, and going to church, we are preparing our hearts for God's love.
Loving God, help me today to prepare my heart to receive your love. In Jesus' name, Amen.