A Christmas Eve Sermon – From 2011

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All these parents are ready to take photos of their little ones at the 2011 Preschool Christmas Program

Are you Ready?

A local radio station, KTYD has (used to have) “the question of the day” each morning. My husband, Scott actually won the question of the day earlier this week… answering correctly “most people do this in the dining room or the kitchen, while 30% do it in the bedroom.” Answer – wrap presents.

I have my own question of the day… but it is based upon my own non-scientific study. Want a go at it? “What is the most commonly asked question in the two weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas?” Answer: are you ready for Christmas?

I don’t know how many times I was asked this question and my answer changed depending on what I had accomplished on any given day. Am I ready… presents purchased, wrapped, and placed under the tree… cookies and other goodies baked and given away – but those pies have to wait so they’ll be fresh! Worship planned, bulletins printed, church decorated… sermon a work in process… what else?

It seems as though whatever we do, we can find more that needs to be done… even if it isn’t absolutely necessary. I wonder if anyone can truly say with an emphatic “yes, I am ready for Christmas!” Why? Because in many ways we expect or at least hope for perfection.

We want to give or receive just the right gift. We want the meals we serve or eat to taste just right. We want our family gatherings to be free of the drama that accompanies so many family get-togethers. We want so much for everything to be perfect that we wear ourselves out with worry… And what happens when we’re worn out? We’re too tired to enjoy ourselves… making a less than perfect celebration.

Maybe we even face frustration with life… maybe not life in general but in our work or our families or our inability to do things the ways we used to… We all know people who give up on things just because they can’t do them well enough. I wonder how much time we spend a little bit grumpy because things are just not happening they way we want…

So what can we do? Maybe learn from the one who is perfect that perfection isn’t necessary… because the one who is perfect knows its’ not possible!

Just look at the story of Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph have to travel home! Many do that for the holidays… but we expect to have a place to stay when we get there… they must have expected a place too… but they didn’t get their soon enough… so all the places – at least indoors were gone!

I think it interesting that we have all these idealized visions of this birth even in our minds. I’m a collector of Nativities and when I looked at them this month I realized that all of them depict tranquility… and maybe that’s because we expect this from God.

But we are in danger of missing the scandal… that God’s son… who is God with us… was born under less than ideal circumstances…

I ask all the mothers… would you have been happy having your baby in a barn? And all the fathers… would you want these circumstances for your wife and son? Why did Jesus come this way? In such humility?

Wouldn’t the king of kings come in glory? With riches and comfort and people attending to his every need? That’s what we would expect if we were expecting perfection. Instead we get humility… and we get an invitation to come to the stable to see…

To see what was difficult become beautiful… to see a family that may not have everything they want, but has more than they can dream for…

And you know what? We too have far more than we can ever dream for… for we too have the only perfection that is possible and that is the gift of Jesus into our lives… and through him the gift of love… because he loves you just as you are… as imperfect as you are!

So, if you’re not quite ready… if you’re still a bit frazzled at what you need to do… if you’re a bit frustrated or a bit sad… I invite you to come to the stable and gaze upon perfection… I invite you to bask for a moment in the light of Jesus. I invite you to allow that light to warm you… and remind you that you already possess perfection in the perfect gift of God’s grace…

We can let go of all the rest… and as we let go we’ll discover that what we have is OK… and when we realize this we will have received another gift… the gift of life… we actually receive it each day… and are invited to live each day in appreciation of this gift. Are you ready?

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