Are you ready for Christmas? How many times have you been asked that question over the last few weeks? If I had £1.00 for every occasion I have been asked that then I would probably be able to help a number of homeless people with accommodation over the Christmas period! Are you ready? I wonder what we mean when we ask and answer that….
Is my house overflowing with food? No, and it won’t be, but we will be eating! Have I bought gifts and written cards? A few of each, but not an excess of any. Is my house decorated? Yes, I love lights, so yes it is, but am I ready? Am I ready to encounter the incarnation afresh, to accept the divine veiled in flesh born and reborn among us, awakening possibilities with me that should beckon me towards a deeper transformation that I am currently comfortable with? Then my answer is no, I am probably never ready for Christmas, but thankfully Christ is always ready for me.
When I dare to pause and allow myself to be caught up in wonder, there I find Christ, in the deep conversations that make room for reality, and express a longing for meaning and purpose, for the times when we dare to peek beneath the tinsel and admit that we don’t really understand Christmas at all, there we will kindle the divine spark afresh within our souls, and the Spirit will, if we let her, fan it into flame.
So how do I prepare, perhaps I prepare by not preparing, by not letting myself get caught up in the pressure of parcels and puddings, the glitter that often places a sticking plaster over our pain and disconnect, even with ourselves! Perhaps I sit and allow Christ to come to me this Christmas-time, not as the babe in the manger, but as the one who has given me an alternative pattern to live by, showing in the fullness of the life of Jesus that I too can be different, I too can allow the love, true joy and peace of God to invade my heart, and that in that receiving that I can become an offering for others.
Frankly I am tired of trying to live up to the expectations of others, and I suspect that behind many a question about preparation there lies a longing for something simpler, something deeper, something more….
So in some senses I am preparing as I write this, I am preparing as I allow myself to be who I am, as I acknowledge that I find this time of year both stuffed with wonder and intensely difficult for all sorts of reasons, so if you tell me that you are struggling to celebrate, I hope that I won’t encourage you to be super jolly, but that I might have the grace to sit alongside you, and tell you honestly that I feel the same, and that somehow in the truth of that, in the deepest hour Christ will come, and we can with the angels, cry glory…