Summary: The Christmas You’ve Always Longed For...bring our attention and focus back to the basics.
Ready or Not, Here it Comes.
1st Sunday of Advent
Well, the season is upon us once more. There has been a steady increase, since the beginning of November, in the lights around town and in the Christmas music that’s been playing on the radio and in the different stores that you go into. But now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and Black Friday has come and gone, we are officially into the Christmas Season!
I was playing hide and seek with my kids a few days ago. Hide and Seek used to be such a simple game. When you’re five, you can fit just about anywhere and the hiding options are endless. I used to be great at hiding. I could get into cupboards and drawers and under couches and behind furniture, I could squeeze anywhere. It’s a little different now! I am no longer a small person. I have to find someplace where I can stand up straight or lay down flat. I can’t squat for a long time or kneel or squeeze into tight spots, my hiding options are now limited to standing behind the shower curtain, hiding behind a closet door, or hiding under our bed. These happen to be the first three places that my kids look. Hide and seek is not as fun as it used to be for me. Sometimes I try and get creative and I try to find a spot that the kids will never find me and what always happens is that I hear those words, “ready or not, here I come!” and I am completely unprepared and end up standing in the middle of the room when they come bursting in to find me. I don’t have enough time to hide and before I know it, my time is completely up.
That’s how Christmas is for a lot of us. It was easier when we were younger. We had no responsibility, as far as planning and shopping, and just had to roll out of bed on Christmas morning and collect our presents, life was good. As adults, all of that changes and Christmas involves an endless list of things to accomplish, meals to prepare, gifts to buy, trees to decorate, cookies to bake, lights to hang so that your house looks better than your neighbors, houses to clean so that the in-laws don’t think you’re slobs when they visit, and in the middle of all of that, we’re also supposed to remember to worship God for the gift of His Son to us on that first Christmas morning. For many of us, we’re still trying to figure everything out and we hear those words, ready or not, here I come and Christmas has come and gone for another year.
For most adults, we no longer have those feelings of awe and wonder that Christmas used to inspire in us. I can remember unwrapping each ornament, as a child, and holding it for a moment just to look at it. I can remember setting up the manger scene and seeing baby Jesus in His manger with all of the angels and shepherds looking on and wondering what it would have been like to be there. I can remember my father reading the Christmas story and listening intently to all of the events that surrounded the birth of Christ on Earth. There is something to that story that stirs the imagination of all of us and touches a place deep inside of our hearts that nothing else can reach. Even those who don’t know the Savior feel something during this time. There is a sense that they need to be in church, a desire for meaning in life and a conscience clearing need to kind of get their God fix for the holiday season.
Some of you have probably heard of the church that was having a problem with mice. No matter how many they caught or killed, there seemed to be two more that would take their place. Finally, at the end of his rope, the pastor had a brilliant idea. He caught all of the mice that he could find, baptized them and made them members, then he only saw them on Christmas and Easter!
We joke about it, but there is something about this holiday that draws people towards God. Christmas is one of the “big two” in the calendar of the church. Along with Easter, it’s a time when we, as a church, have the rare opportunity to have our pews filled with those who need to know that this story is much more than a children’s tale. Often, however, the problem is that Christians have lost the meaning and the joy of Christmas and we have nothing to offer those who enter this place genuinely searching for something better.