Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Ask any kid what is coming and they will know – Christmas! But we all know it is coming, and for some us coming all too quickly. Back in July, you may have heard me announce in worship that, “Christmas will be here in 3 weeks.” Well, the countdown has now really begun and by the time you receive this letter, the timing will be most certainly true. The kids are counting down the days using chocolate Advent calendars, or those red and green paper rings. Parents and adults have all those errands to run and things to do on a checklist. We have houses to clean and decorate, goodies to bake, gifts to wrap and people to visit or parties to plan. Oh, and there are church activities to attend to as well. It seems there is more to preparing for Christmas these days than there used to be.
This is true for preparing for babies to be born in general. Did you know there are websites where prenatal checklists are posted? There are blogs – mommy blogs – and doctors helping their patients create a birth plan for the day of baby’s arrival. All of which made me wonder how prepared Mary and Joseph were for Jesus’ arrival. How prepared was anyone for the first Christmas? How prepared were they for what that night would mean for the world; for us? Or did it matter? Or does it matter?
Here is an observation I have made over the years: when people are at their worst, that’s when they come around the Christian community the least. In other words, when things are bad for us we stay away from our brothers and sisters in Christian community. When we are in true need, we don’t want to be pitied, so we suffer alone instead. It will be even more so for many this Christmas season. It is almost as if we don’t want to come with our lives “unprepared.”
This Christmas think on this: if God chose to be born to two teenage parents, scared witless in a dark stable that smelled of manure; perhaps whether our shoes are shined or our personal lives are clean and in order is of no matter to God. God comes to us! Here and now in the middle of our messy world. God comes in the midst of your stressed out “busyness.” Into the turmoil and chaos and struggle and fear of this world (your world) – God comes. God is born among the broken and unprepared lives of people like you and I. Who can be ready for that???
Lucky for us, God’s coming doesn’t depend on our preparation, but upon our need. God shows up because we need God to show up. A light. A hope. An assurance. A promise that we are not alone. God comes to us, that’s the gift we are given each year when we celebrate Christmas. Christ is born for us, through us, today.
As Christmas arrives allow yourself to be a little unprepared, a bit surprised by how it comes anyway. Listen to the story and think about how caught and unprepared Mary and Joseph were that first Christmas. Yet, the story tells us, God comes in a baby, Emmanuel, God with us, God for us. God is here for you, just as you are, because you need Him to be here for you. For unto you is born a savior who is Christ the Lord. Sing some Christmas hymns and then think about the words. Christ the savior us born. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Spend time with your family and worship together. Slow down. (I could go on and on with the list and as helpful as it is, God will come anyway; to you.) God comes where you need God most, in the flesh and mess and reality of everyday life. God is born among the broken and unprepared lives of people like you and I. Who can be ready for that? Luckily we don’t have to be. Amen! Come Lord Jesus.
Meet you at the manger,
Pr. Paul <><