Posted by David Warkentin on Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This phrase is offered as a sort-of “how’s the weather” alternative for social small talk during December. Typical answers revolve around buying presents and attending Christmas parties. In a busy time of year, this is a natural banter we can unite ourselves around. It’s amazing and amusing (and troubling!?) how shared stress unites!
This year has been no different.
Personally, however, the question has come to mean something more than presents and parties. In the context of Advent, I’ve realized “Are you ready for Christmas?” takes on a whole new meaning.
Am I ready for hope? Peace? Joy? and Love?
And, really, am I ready for Jesus!?!
Such questions are no small talk. But then, Advent and Christmas are no small talk either. Advent as a time of preparation calls for deep reflection on these questions. And the fact easy answers are absent is kind of the point. We have a period of preparation in Advent because answering these questions takes time. Reflection is hard work.
Such reflection reveals the tension of Advent:
I want hope for a world filled with stories of hopelessness.
I want peace when stories of violence continue to shock us day after day.
I want joy in a time when pessimism seems to reign on so many levels.
I want love knowing how peoples’ default feeling is one of rejection or judgement.
Yet this desire for God’s reign in the Advent themes comes with the stark reminder of how my own life often neglects such aspirations. Advent words can easily become empty words - what “I want” isn’t lived out. My life isn’t consistent with the reality of “God with us.” In this sense, I’m far from ready for Christmas. I’m guessing I’m not alone.
We can hide from such deeper reflections, busying ourselves with Christmas chaos as we are so prone to do. Or we can hide in self-pity and retreat from our own failures at being more hopeful, peaceful, joyful, and loving. Or we can realize that Advent and Christmas was never about our readiness to begin with.
Instead of readiness, we get this realization: God is ready...for hope, peace, joy and love.
Yes, we hide, distracted and insecure.
But in Advent, God calls out in the most hopeful, peaceful, joyful and loving way:
“Ready or not, here I come.”