Have you bought all the presents? Have you wrapped them all? How about the cookies? The movies? The cards?
Maybe you are like me and most of the physical preparation for Christmas are complete. And maybe you are like me and this season of Advent, meant to be a time of spiritual preparation, has instead been a time of parties–with overeating and overdrinking and not-enough-sleep–and concerts and some measure of stress and distress. Maybe you have an ideal of a quiet heart, a still and peaceful anticipation of the wonder of this time of year, and instead you feel harried and off-kilter and weary from it all.
I’m more or less ready for Christmas. But am I ready for Jesus?
We skipped church one morning because the week had been so full. The next week, we sat through the service, but we were tired and cranky and the kids were squirmy and I had trouble paying attention. I’ve managed to look at my Advent devotional, which I love, all of four times. As for the kids, we’re on day 15 of Advent on one calendar and day 9 on another, and that’s even after we “caught” up multiple times. On a more significant level, I’ve been grumpy and discontent and not very attuned to God’s work around and within and among us.
I’m not ready for Jesus to show up, and perhaps that’s exactly as it should be.
I think of Mary, unexpectedly visited by the angel. She wasn’t ready to become a mother.
Or of Joseph, feeling shocked and saddened and betrayed to find out his bride-to-be was pregnant. He wasn’t ready to be a stepfather.
Or the shepherds, dozing in the fields until the host of heaven showed up. I can’t imagine they were prepared for glory.
Even after his birth, Jesus was always unexpectedly showing up. To the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Inviting himself over to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. Barging in on Mary and Martha. In fact, I think one of the reasons Martha was so peeved with Mary was that Jesus hadn’t given them time to prepare the house properly for his arrival. He just showed up. In the midst of the dishes and the empty refrigerator and piles of laundry. He just showed up, and he told them that he didn’t care about the meal or the clean house or the piles on the countertop. He just cared about them. He wanted them to ignore the dust and dirt and focus on him.
Perhaps this is the point. If I try to make myself ready for Jesus, I will never be good enough. But just as he was willing to enter the mess of a stable, he is ready to enter my life as it is.
I will never be fully prepared to welcome God into my life.
But He is always ready to come in.