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Summary: A reflection and response to the age old question of, Are you ready for Christmas?

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Over the past few days as I encounter people I am often asked a question that is commonly asked this time of the year which is, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Every Christmas getting ready seems to be everyone’s main focus. And the definition of our getting ready encompasses a broad spectrum of areas in our lives There are gifts to procure and wrap, travel plans to make, decorations to hang, food to cook, entertaining family and friends, songs to sing, worship services to plan, and more. And while all this preparation and “getting ready” certainly can, and usually does, wear us out it should also help us to lift our spirits and help us to be thankful for the birth of the Son of God, the Incarnation.

But what would have happened if we didn’t get everything done? What would have happened if gasp…. we weren’t ready? In fact are any of us really ever ready?! We all know the answer to these questions which is that no matter what we do, or fail to do. No matter if we prepare or not - Christmas will come. So why should we even worry about getting ready and perhaps even more important what is ready?

When you think about the whole Christmas story it appears that Mary and Joseph really weren’t ready even though they knew well in advance that Jesus / Christmas was coming. I mean let’s think about it. They left on long journey knowing the baby would be born while they were away from home and still they arrive in Bethlehem, tired, probably hungry, with no reservations at the inn, and Mary goes into labor. They had known for nine months a baby was coming yet had made no arrangements for a crib, toys, clothes, linens, or even diapers. There was simply Mary and Joseph in a stable with a feed trough and some animals. By our standard they weren’t even close to being ready for Christmas yet Christmas was coming and did come.

Also based the Gospel accounts it appears that the Jewish people and event their King Herod were not ready even though they had known for centuries that a Messiah was coming, that Christmas was on its way. This can also be said of the entire world because even the leaders the great Roman Empire had heard rumors of this “King of the Jews” and likewise some learned people who lived in the east were watching the stars for signs.

So here we are with what appears to be the entire world right down to Mary and Joseph not ready for Christmas yet Christmas came. But appearances can be deceiving. You see what we perceive and understand as being ready might be different from the Fathers definition of being ready. I ask you to consider that:

+ After eons the world was ready to be delivered from its original fall. The predestined plan of Salvation was ready to take place – Christmas was coming and did come.

+ Even though the prophets and leaders of God’s the chosen people had misunderstood the veiled message of the nature and character of the messiah was misunderstood the message was still correct that Christmas was coming and did come.

+ Even though King Herod was planning to lash out in a violent attempt to strike down the coming King – yet Christmas was coming and did come.

+ And even though Mary and Joseph were not prepared by our standards for the birth of a child they were indeed ready for the birth for everything that was taking place was exactly as God planed it - Christmas was coming and did come.

So here we are getting ready in our own way to celebrate this wonderful gift we received over 2000 years ago. And this is good. But we need to remember that our understanding of being “ready” might not be Gods understanding of being ready. With this thought in mind let us never forget to remember that just as Christmas came so long ago it is coming again and we need to be ready.

I am not speaking of being ready for the celebration of that first Christmas but of being ready for the Christmas that is yet to come - the return of the King of Kings. To be ready let us be like the shepherds and wise men of so long ago look upon the Child in the manger with love and adoration. Let us accept and believe that Jesus is God’s gift to us and then let this gift of unimaginable love fill our hearts and changes our lives. Above all other things let us always strive to be faith filled disciples of Jesus Christ. And when we do these things I assure you that no mater what else we do or how we prepare in our own way to celebrate the memory of Christmas past we will truly be ready for the Christmas yet to come.

Are you ready for Christmas?

God Bless and Merry Christmas,

Bishop Michael

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