4th Advent. Lectionary Readings: 2 Sam. 7:1-11, 16, Luke 1: 46-55 or Ps 89:1-4, 19-26, Rom. 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38
"Are you ready for Christmas?" I get so tired of this question in December! It is the seasonal variation on the classic Canadian banal conversation opener; "so, how about that weather?"
I'm not sure if anyone cares at all about the answer. I suspect they are just making conversation, but it makes me wonder, what does it mean to be ready for Christmas? The question is meant to be innocuous- a general wondering if shopping, cleaning, decorating, and turkey planning is all done.
Is that what it means to be ready for Christmas? To be perfect and planned and prepared for parties? If that's true, I'm a persistent and pathetic failure! I put up a few decorations, but tend to only accomplish about half of my intentions each year. I don't always get to shopping before the actual week of Christmas. I intend to send cards, but rarely do. We eat the baking before Christmas day comes. Sometimes the house gets tidied, but rarely do we get to the "clean" I would prefer. I think I've worn the same outfits for several years already. I'm certainly not "ready" in the way the question asks, however, I do feel ready in a different way.
I'm not stressed about it. Christmas happens no matter if the details are ready or not. It's more important to have time to ready my attitudes, to have some emotional reserves to be present with others, to have some space for renewing the message of Christ incarnate in our messed up world.
Today's passages help me to focus on what is important for Christmas preparation. All of them push our thoughts toward God. In Samuel, King David is all fussed about building a temple for the ark of the covenant. God tells him the tent is good enough. "I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent...did I ever speak a word with the tribal leaders...saying, "why have you not built me a house of cedar?" David is reminded that God's love does not depend on getting all the fancy stuff done.
Luke reminds us that nothing is impossible with God. This is a good reminder, however, the good news given to Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1:26-38 comes with a lot of responsibility. Am I ready, am I prepared for what it means for God to enter my life anew this season? What might God's good news mean as I interact with people this season? Somehow, I don't think God cares if my kitchen floor gets washed, or if I have a new outfit, or if all the gifts (for people who don't need them) are wrapped and ready.