“6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7 NIV)
Since I grew up on Christmas specials, I have a hard time reading this verse without hearing it in the voice of one of the great theologians/philosophers of our time. So without further ado:
Good old Linus, still getting it right all these years. Jesus. Beyond the presents, trees, lights and food, Christmas is about Jesus. But of course I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Oh we might get distracted every now and then, but we get the premise. Christmas is about Jesus.
Yet I don’t know about you, but this year it’s been a little more difficult in getting into the Christmas spirit. And I finally figured out why. It’s the weather. I’m in Ohio, known for her inability to stay within a consistent weather pattern. But even for us this has been an unpredictable winter.
Yesterday, the third Sunday of Advent we hit record high temperatures in the low 70’s. The day before I drove around with my window down and sat on the front porch in my shirt sleeves. Usually by this point we’ve had one or two snows and some bitterly cold temperatures. This year it’s more like this
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’m not a winter person. I can live without polar temperatures, ice and shoveling driveways and sidewalks. I do like a white Christmas though. For me the perfect snow would begin to fall as we leave the late Christmas Eve service, cover the world in a pure white blanket on Christmas Morning and be gone a few days later.
But this year I have to admit, as much as I enjoy warm weather, the mild temperatures have thrown me off. I’m not near ready yet for Christmas. Funny thing about Christmas though, it doesn’t seem to care if I’m ready or not. If I don’t get every present wrapped every decoration up, if it never snows again Christmas is coming. You can’t stop it.
That’s why I don’t get too bent out of shape over the “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” thing. Whether you wish to say Christmas or not, it’s coming. Try as we might to bury it under bad attitudes, complaining about long lines, giving Scrooge a good run for his money, we can’t stop Christmas. Like that other sage, the Grinch discovered Christmas can’t be stopped no matter how hard you try.
There is something Holy, and ultimately transformational about that isn’t there? The world wrapped in sin and “nature’s night” so unready it didn’t even have a bed prepared for the King of Kings couldn’t stop Jesus from coming into the world. At our most unaware, unready moment Jesus came and the power of sin and evil was broken. Joseph and Mary, the Inn keeper, the shepherds, none of them were ready for the birth of the Son of God. But He came anyway and changed all their lives.
Maybe you’re not ready for Christmas either. Oh I don’t mean having the cookies ready and the tree decorated. I mean you. Try as we might to make Advent a time of preparation, sometimes we miss it. Our sins, our self centeredness keep us from being ready. A loss in our lives can do the same thing. So can a hard heart.
I want you to know that ready or not, Jesus is coming. That’s love and grace. Even when you’re not ready, maybe at your lowest point Jesus still comes to you. His love and hope, His very presence can be born in us again.
So even if you’re not ready, open your heart to the truth of this season. Jesus loves you. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has arrived just for you. Let Him in and be transformed by HIs love.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><