By Nadia Bolz-Weber
People keep asking me this question: "So, are you ready for Christmas?" What does this mean exactly? It could mean:
"So, have you exchanged bits of paper and metal and plastic for other bits of paper and metal and plastic and then wrapped the new paper and metal and plastic in colored paper, marked them with the names of your family members, and put them under a tree which has been cut down from where it grows but now stands in your home (or is also comprised of metal and plastic and lives the rest of the year in a box in a room under which it now stands)? And have you also combined food stuffs so that they have no nutritional value but make those who eat them magically become bigger each day that they are 'getting ready for Christmas'?"
Or does the question, "So, are you ready for Christmas?" mean:
"So, are you fully prepared to receive the one who brings God to humans and humans to God by being both human and God?"
The answer to the first is: "No. I haven't had time." The answer to the second is: "I'm not sure I really can be."
Am I prepared for the coming of the Christ into the world? No. Am I ready? Absolutely. Some things we are never prepared for. They happen anyway. Am I ready to start a new worshipping community? Yep. Am I prepared? Not at all. Oh yeah, I've read all the books and have completed my course work and have spent endless hours in emerging church communities, I have an amazing group of people who are committed to do this thing together, etc., but I'm not prepared because I think prepared implies that I am aware of what will happen and know how to deal with it all. Seriously, I have no idea what will happen, which is as exciting as it is terrifying.
I'm ready for Christmas because after this season of Advent I really need to hear the story of Christ's birth again. I need to hear about how God enters fully into the muck of our existence and brings new life. I'm ready for that because I know that I need it.
Am I prepared for Christmas? No. There is no way for me to know how God will bring new life into this existence -- here in this place, in this life, at this time. One thing I know is that, like the birth of Christ, it won't be what I expect or what I think I'm prepared for.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor living in Denver, Colorado, where she serves the emerging church, House for all Sinners and Saints. She blogs at www.sarcasticlutheran.com and is the author of Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television. This article is reprinted with permission from her blog.