Ready or Not! - Christmas Eve 2016

Inspired by Luke 2:1-20

Ready or not, here I come! I remember yelling that phrase as a child, and as a dad, when I’d play hide and seek with my friends or with my kids. It was the signal to everyone that I was on my way to find them, whether they thought they’d have enough time to hide or not, I was on my way. As the person hiding, you did not want to hear those words and not be in your hiding place! You did not want to hear those words and not be ready. Because then you had to hurry and rush to find a hiding place that you knew wasn’t going to be good enough anyway so you might as well just give up now. My anxiety is rising just thinking about it!

Well, thanks be to God that we don’t have to have this same anxiety producing reaction when Jesus enters our world with a great big “Ready or not, here I come!” Because that’s basically what he did two thousand years ago. For the past four weeks of Advent we have heard a lot about getting ready for Jesus, or how we should prepare for his arrival, whether that mean his birthday or the second coming. “Prepare the way for the Lord” has been a common refrain of ours this past month. But you know, the reality is, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we are never really ready for Jesus.

In spite of John the Baptist’s great work, as a prophet in the desert, preparing the way for the Lord, the world was not ready for baby Jesus when he showed up on the scene. One thing that I love about our Gospel text for this evening from Luke, is that it’s full of all these ordinary things happening around the birth of Jesus. It begins with tax season! I’m sorry if that produced some anxiety in some of you just then! It’s right around the corner for us too!

It begins with a decree from Caesar Augustus to have everyone enrolled or registered so they could pay their taxes. I mean, how ordinary is that? Then there’s a poor engaged couple expecting their first born. Very ordinary. There’s a crowded city with no vacancies. Very ordinary. And to round out the ordinariness of it all Luke throws in some shepherds and sheep.

And then Bam! Baby Jesus shows up! In the midst of all these ordinary things going on, the extraordinary shows up. Ready or not, here Jesus comes. Thankfully, God waits for no one to be ready, otherwise we’d still be waiting for the first coming of Christ, let alone the second coming! To begin our service this evening, our always amazing Owen chanted what is known as The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ. This has been used for centuries around the world on Christmas Eve and is being sung countless times somewhere in the world right now. One thing that I love about it is the ordinary human events that it mentions: rainbows and dancing, the founding of a city, the reign of an emperor, even the Olympics were mentioned!

All of which to simply say, that Christ shows up in our lives, not when we are ready, not when we have all our ducks in a row, not when we have properly prepared, not any of these things. Christ shows up in our lives when Christ is ready, and Christ has been ready since the foundation of the world. Christ was born ready: ready to care for us, to feel with us, to journey with us, to laugh with us, to cry with us—Christ has been and always will be ready to love us. So in the midst of this busy holiday season, when you hear Christ say, “Ready or not, here I come!” Relax, rest easy, and let Christ come to be with you. All is ready, because Christ is ready for you. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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