Are You Ready For Christmas

The Angels and the Shepherds by James Tissot

For the past few weeks, I have had numerous people that I have come in contact with ask me, “…are you ready for Christmas?”  For some strange reason (yes, I say that very sarcastically), those five words have been on my mind all morning as I really thought about what that meant.

“…are you ready for Christmas?”

Ironically (yes, I also say that very sarcastically, because I know that nothing with God is ironic or coincidental), one of my co-workers came into my office this morning, put something in my inbox and asked me, “So, are you ready for Christmas?”  I started laughing just a little and I know for certain that she probably thought I was a little nuts, but then when I shared with her that those words had been on my mind all morning as I tried to really think about what that meant to me and what the celebration of Jesus’ birth had to do with being “ready” for Christmas.  “Am I ready for Christmas”…just exactly what does that mean?

To the world (and also to a lot of Christ-followers), those words probably mean, “have you got all your lights strung on your tree, have you got all your shopping done, have you got all your food for the BIG DAY safely tucked away in your pantry and your fridge, have you got everything wrapped and under the tree, have you mailed all your Christmas cards, have you got everything done that you wanted to get done before THE DAY?!?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those things.  It’s part of the celebration of Christmas.  We love to decorate our houses, we love to shop and try and figure out what Uncle Joe would want or what Aunt Susie needs for Christmas.  We love the stress of Christmas (well, maybe we don’t love that part of it).  But is that what it really means to be ready for Christmas?

I don’t think anyone (not even Joseph and Mary) were ready for THE DAY when the Messiah was to be born.  Certainly not those in the small, obscure town of Bethlehem.  All the townspeople could really think about was getting ready for ALL those people that would be coming to their tiny town to register for the census.  Getting their businesses in tip-top shape.  All the revenue that would come in because ALL those people would be coming to their town.  And the shepherds, I’m sure they were probably not thinking about anything incredible happening that night.  Their main concern was making sure the sheep they tended were well fed, comfortable and taken care of.  Was anyone really ready for that first Christmas?

The angels were!!  They stood ready for their Creator to give them the signal that it was time to go!!  Time to make the announcement that God had come to earth.  The angels knew that He was the only hope for mankind.  They knew that only He could do what no one else could.  Fully God, fully man, they were ready to tell those lowly, not worth much to society shepherds that He had come.  Not as someone they could not see or touch or even smell, but He came as one of them…one of us.  He came as a baby…needing to have His diaper changed, needing to depend on His mother for nourishment, needing to be consoled when He cried, needing to learn to crawl and walk, to talk, to do all the things that babies have to learn.  Our Creator became one of us, so that we, in turn, could become one of His.  He alone gave up everything…the riches of glory, the daily face-to-face conversations with His Father, the daily, minute-by-minute adoration of the angels and the cherubim and the seraphim, He gave it all up for us.

Several years ago, my pastor preached a sermon on how we want to keep Jesus in the manger so that we can celebrate His birth year after year, but we have to be reminded NOT to simply celebrate Him in the manger, but celebrate His life, His death, His resurrection and His ascension back to His Father.  We have to remember that He came so that we could have life – life everlasting.  We have to remember that He is triumphantly returning one day, not as a helpless baby in a manger, but He is gloriously returning as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  When He returns, “…every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Jesus Christ the Lord!”

Am I ready for Christmas?  I don’t know….I think the more important question I have to ask myself…am I ready for His return?

 

Patricia Hooker 

 

Painting by James Tissot “The Angels and Shepherd” in Public Domain