When you read those words does it register anxiety because of all that a parent must do to “be ready” for a big family holiday?
Likely you would answer the question quickly, “We Are Not Yet Ready!”
However, the question is not at all about whether or not you have been able to tackle your shopping lists, nor is being prepared for Christmas about having your calendars worked out perfectly to fit in all the Christmas cheer. Are you ready? is a call to reflect again on the heart of your family – is your household actually ready to look to the heavens and stand with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and answer the angel’s call?
Luke’s Gospel teaches us about a young girl, not wealthy, not royalty, with a low social standing, and worse than all that: unmarried. She is given the blessing of a child. The story of Christ’s birth truly is scandalous, but deep within the narrative is the story of God’s incarnation, human obedience, and the meaning of Advent – Christ’s arrival into our world and our directions for how to be ready to receive His gift of hope.
The way we must be prepared for Christmas is by becoming ready to answer God’s call. When God calls us we must respond: “Here am I, The servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.” This is how that unsuspecting Mary greeted the invitation to take part in the first Christmas. She was willing to serve God unselfishly and with absolute abandon; she was ready to go to the greatest lengths to become a part of God’s great love coming into this world. Are you ready?
So many of our modern traditions make Christmas about us instead of the Christ child. Our focus is on self-love and love of our own household rather than celebrating God’s gift of love for the whole world. For instance, consider how many presents you will purchase for your children this season -I know many families that give out more gifts at Christmas than they do at a child’s birthday. Does this not bear witness to our children, our community, our God that we have made Christmas into our birthday instead of Christ’s birthday? Do we believe a massive celebration of our own luxuries would be the best way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world?
Christmas should be a celebration of Christ and His Way. It should be a season that we set aside to give to God our gifts of service, devotion, and love.
I believe to nurture a loving and grace-filled home we should consider Santa’s list a little less and Christ’s list a little more. What would Jesus want from us this year in honor of His Birth into our lives?
This is why we must prepare ourselves for Christmas, because a call from God always comes with a change in our life. To celebrate the birth of Christ means we must be ready to respond to that Good News. This season is about hearing an annunciation (a call on our life to service), and it is also about our faithful response: I am ready – “let it be with me according to your word.” Now that I have heard your call, I will carry Christ in a new way into the world; I will help Christ be born anew in the lives of others.
The story of Christmas is just as scandalous today as it was two thousand years ago because normal, even sinful, folks like me and you are asked to bear Christ in this world that so desperately needs Christ to show up even through us.
There are so many ways in which God might call you to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but the only true Christmas response to His calling is clear: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word!” Are you ready to say that back to God when you celebrate His birthday this year?
Dr. David R. Saliba is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Dothan, Al. He and his wife, Elizabeth, both grew up in Dothan and enjoys serving Christ in their community with their three young children, Joseph, Grace and Jacob.