It is almost Christmas Day and it is time for our time-honored tradition of asking each other, “Are you ready for Christmas? This question has become our culturally accepted greeting that we say to each other during this season. It is like the employee who asks you, “How are you doing? Did you find what you were looking for today?” Questions that we have trained ourselves to ask, but expect that the response will be “fine” and “yes.” We are busy and the truth is there is a lot more to do, but we don’t want to be rude so we ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
I know that most of the time this question is really about whether our gift shopping is done, but I thought about whether I was actually ready for Christmas. It is a day that I stay home with my wife and kids. We open presents, watch the Disney parade, eat a meal, and maybe close out the day by watching a movie together. Am I ready for that? Yes. Then I wonder about whether I am ready for the birth of God to an impoverished, oppressed thirteen year old girl in an out-of-the-way nowhere place of a town in a barn behind an inn. Am I ready for God to be with us?
I have four kids and I can confidently say that I was never ready for any of them. Of course we had the car seat, a cradle, and all those things, but I was never fully ready for another new life to join our family. I don’t think anyone can every be fully ready for all that will come with adding another life to ours. When you add a child your schedule changes, your availability changes, your sleep patterns change, everything changes. So when I began to think about that new life long ago in Bethlehem joining the human family and him being called “God with Us” I wondered whether I am ready for what that means to us.
When God joined the human family everything changed. Being historically so far removed from the event we might be tempted to think of the birth of God among us as ancient lore that feels out of touch with our modern concerns, fears, and hardships. We might think that life today is far more complicated and advanced. The truth is that a lot the stuff we face now were problems all those years ago. When we hear in the news about horrifying acts of terror and violence committed against children we cry out. I wonder how many tears Jesus cried when he heard about all the first born in Bethlehem being slaughtered by King Herod? Jesus watched as family, friends, neighbors grew older, failed in health, lost jobs, homes, went hungry, were over taxed, were executed for their beliefs, and experienced the pain of alienation and betray. These things that we face and struggle to rise above Jesus experienced too. Jesus saw it all, felt it, and still forgave through giving up his life. Jesus was ready.
God was ready before we ever took a moment to consider all these things are a part of Christmas.
Are you ready for Christmas? God is ready for us.