“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Adoration of the Magi (detail)
Quentin Metsys, 1526,
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)

 

Isaiah 11:1-10, Matt. 3:1-12
For Sunday, December 8, 2013
Second Sunday of Advent

“Are you ready for Christmas?”  This is the question inevitably asked by friends and colleagues. The orientation of the question is of course around shopping.  It’s really, “Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”  Wouldn’t it be interesting to respond this way: “Well, my shopping is done, so now I’m focused on getting ready for Christmas spiritually.”

Somewhere between Santa Claus and Rudolph all of us know that there is supposed to be a spiritual component to Christmas.  That word advent bobs to the surface at this point.  “Advent” is the anglicized version of the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming”.  Who is coming?  The long awaited Messiah, the one who would save us from ourselves.  He came to a lowly stable in an insignificant little hamlet called Bethlehem and the world was changed forever.

As a kid, I loved the cardboard advent calendar my Mom put on the refrigerator.  Every day we could open another little square and every revealed image brought us one step closer to the big day.  The big day for our young minds was “time to open presents!”  Yet the big day from a biblical perspective is when Messiah, the one who would save us from ourselves, is revealed to the world: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse …. the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:1-2).

So Messiah is coming.  That’s what Christmas is about.  Are we ready?  Ah… obviously… NOT.  So how do we get ready?  Simple.  Repent.  As John the Baptist says in this week’s reading in Matthew, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”  To repent means to “turn around”.  We need to stop walking away from God and start walking toward him.  What if instead of constantly forcing Jesus to the periphery of our Christmas experience we made him the destination?  Wouldn’t that be a Christmas to remember?

Points to ponder:
What is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas?  Is there something in that memory that points to the joy of being given Jesus by your Heavenly Father?
What would it look like for you to get ready Christmas spiritually?

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