“So, are you ready for Christmas?”
Sometimes it seems like a race to see who can blurt out that question first. Then, inevitably, we all rhyme off the many reasons why we’re not ready for Christmas: so much shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, decorating, travelling, and visiting to do. So much to do, so little time!
One of the traditional pre-Christmas tasks that I frequently don’t get to is the Christmas card ritual. Every year I think to myself, “This year I’m going to get those cards in the mail early.” And every year, I don’t.
Perhaps the best loved Christmas cards are those that have beautiful quiet scenes: snow softly falling on pristine woodlands, or clear skies filled with twinkling stars, or a young Mary holding her sleeping baby in a dimly-lit stable. Those sentimental images that tug at your heart strings and make you sigh, “Ahhh, now that’s what Christmas is all about.”
But when we listen carefully to the ancient prophets who anticipated the birth of the Messiah, tranquility is not even close to their visions. Isaiah and Jeremiah imagine a time of chaos, when life as the people know it—life as we know it—will cease to be. But they’re not talking about an end of life, period. They’re not talking about death and destruction and the end-of-the-world misery of big-budget Hollywood movies. They’re talking about a reversal of life as we know it, a change from life as it is now to life as it will be when God’s promise is fulfilled dramatically, and forever.
Christmas is about that change. Christmas is about the promise of new life, a reversal of life as we know it. Christmas is about the hope, peace, joy, and love that is possible in the new life, when God’s promise is fulfilled. Are we ready for that? Are we ready for a reversal of life as we know it? Are we ready for Christmas? I am. I’m ready for Christmas.
I’m ready for Christmas when I think of Earl, who only wants to hold my hand and call me “Dear” because that contact helps him forget, just for a minute, his profound loneliness. When I think of Earl, I’m ready for Christmas.
I’m ready for Christmas when I think of Allen, whose 20+ years of homelessness and drug addiction have left deep lines on his face and a cold hardness in his eyes. When I think of Allen, I’m ready for Christmas.
I’m ready for Christmas when I hear the morning news, and listen to the seemingly endless abuse and misery we humans inflict upon each other. When I hear the morning news, I’m ready for Christmas.
I’m ready for Christmas. I’m ready for the world as we know it to be changed, and a new way of life to take its place. But, as the gospels remind us, we don’t know when that time will come. It probably won’t be today, or tomorrow, or December 25, 2017. It probably won’t be in our lifetime. But as we wait for the birth of the Christ Child, we have time to prepare with anticipation and hope. We have time to get ready for a future when Christmas will come, when the world will be changed, and when the promised hope, peace, joy, and love of God’s reign will rule the hearts, minds, and souls of people the world over. So, go ahead, ask me: am I ready for Christmas? Yes. Yes, I am.
Rev Janice Frame
Western Manitoulin Pastoral Charge
with United Churches in Meldrum Bay, Silver Water, and Elizabeth Bay