No! I am not ready for Christmas.
Yes, I realize that the social question –Are you ready for Christmas?– merely inquires about decorations, parties, and presents. This question merely opens an opportunity about finding the perfect present for one’s spouse, hiding long sought for games from increasingly inquisitive children, and putting up a display that rivals one’s neighbors. A time to ask: “Would so and so understand a gift of fish that might help build God’s kingdom?”
Yes, I am ready for the rush of worship services that involve children and adults who do not normally participate in worship. For that annual flurry of religious excitement and renewal the planning and writing and recruiting began weeks ago and is now largely in place. Although these events will produce anxieties up until all the candles are extinguished.
But no, I am not ready, at least not on a personal level. Mary’s unplanned pregnancy had troubled her and it had troubled Joseph. News of Jesus’ birth had troubled Herod and all Jerusalem with him, compelling this new family to relocate to a foreign land. The birth of Christ should trouble us unless we are unaware of its significance, like the magi, or have nothing left to lose, like the shepherds. It is like the line in a movie when the bad guy says: “Prepare to meet your Maker!” Or when the final exam proctor says: “Pencils down. Close your test booklets.” Thus the glitter and pageantry distract me from the reason for the season and interfere with making time to ponder: “Where is Christ in all this?”
So, no, I am not ready. I am troubled that God has much service for me to do before I will be ready to sing with Simeon:
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” – Luke 2:30-32 (NRSV)