As the days of December fall off the calendar, this question is asked more and more frequently. In fact, it is likely the most asked question among friends, and among total strangers in crowded elevators and in line at the grocery store or where ever this time of year. “You ready for Christmas?” As I listen to the question being asked and then for the answers that come, I have come to realize that really what most people mean is, “Have you bought all the gifts you are going to buy this year?”, rather than, “Are you prepared to celebrate the birth of the King?”
For some, the question can reference whether or not your tree is up and the home decorated, or if all the holiday baking is done, but I think most frequently people mean when they ask it, if the holiday shopping is complete. The question can bring stress if the answer is no, and the stress grows the closer we get to the day.
You certainly don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas. Gift buying and holiday decorating can have little to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus and still be great fun. Answering the question in reference to gift purchases or holiday goody preparation is a much safer question to ask people anyway. If we ask the question in regards to being ready for the coming of the King, well, that’s a horse of a different color entirely. And yet, it is truly the question we should be asking of others and of ourselves.
So how does a person prepare for the coming of the King? I think we start where we should always start with these things. We start in the scriptures. We go back, way back, to the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 which starts, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…” and continue in verse six with, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..”
Galatians tells us that at the fullness of time, God sent his son. Jesus didn’t happen upon the world, God waited until just the right moment in history to send him. His coming would serve to fulfill all of the Old Testament scriptures, and it would serve to explain all the things that up until then had not been made clear. The sin, the separation, the chosing of Israel, the captivity, the exodus, the law, the sacrifices, the failures.
It would all be made clear with the coming of the Messiah. Jesus was coming to set things right; to put what had previously been written upon stone tablets into our hearts. He came to fulfill the law of Moses that we might live an abundant life in a relationship with the very Creator of the Universe. He came to save us from ourselves and put us in right relationship with the Father. Jesus was to be our only hope.
So in light of these things, let me ask you the question. Are you ready for Christmas? Are you ready to receive the greatest gift ever given? Can you make room for him this next week? There’s still time for a shift in focus if it’s needed. The lights, colors and sounds of the season are wonderful, but they can distract us if we are not careful. We must not forget that the King’s coming changed everything. Are we ready?
When all the gifts have been opened (and exchanged), the food eaten, and decorations stored away for another year, we are still left with the forever-ness of the King’s coming.
“Of the greatness of his government and peace- there will be no end. He shall reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” Isaiah 9:7
I am sure this next week we will all continue to be asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?” How about we let the question mean something more. Let it touch our hearts. Each time we are asked, let it serve to remind us about the King that came to save us.