"Are you ready for Christmas?" This question seems to have replaced the "How are you?" as the question for this time of year. It seems to require just a simple "yes" or "no" but for me it is a dilemma. As a Christian, an Episcopal priest, a mother, grandmother, wife, etc. it causes me to review all the various layers of Christmas and often paralyzes my response. Yes, I am ready - presents are purchased and mailed (online shopping and shipping makes this easy if I can just get an idea of what people want) and my Christmas letter is written even if it is not printed and mailed yet and may not be even with 12 days of Christmas. Yes and No as a priest - the service bulletins are typed and being printed (I hope) but I do not have more than a few glimmerings of what will be in my sermon. No - as a Christian - I am never ready for the amazing gift of the incarnation - God being born in our midst. Were Mary and Joseph ready? Mary - a young woman (almost a girl, perhaps) - on the road, hoping to find shelter before the baby is born, pregnant - God knows how - and with a promise but not much else. Joseph - old? young? - a wife, pregnant not by him, taking her on a trip because the Emperor does worry about the lives of his subjects or the inconvenience he is causing. Totally not ready for what is to be the first Christmas. Am I ready - ready to have God born in me this night - as we sing in O Little Town of Bethlehem? Is there space in my life for God who is going to be as demanding as a newborn? who reminds me that all people are created in the image of God? (even "those" people), who will call me to seek justice for all people? to live in the world with compassion towards all (interesting that word compassion - in the Hebrew the root is womb of God), to love my neighbor as myself? Am I ready for the outpouring of Love into my life - a love that is not bribed or purchased, but surrounds us and dwells in the spaces between us - in whom we live and move and have our being? No - not ready - but God like some wild child playing tag with us says "ready or not - here I come" and when we are caught we know we are "IT" -- captured by LOVE.
Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine,
love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign. Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)