Ready or Not, Here I Come!
Topic: Biblical Verse: John 1:1–1:14
The Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas Day
December 25, 2019
“Ready or Not, Here I Come!”
It is said that children make Christmas, and there is great truth in this. The unabashed joy and laughter of little ones lifts our spirits. My four daughters are no longer little children, but young adults. But when they were little the game of “Hide and Seek” was great fun. As we all know, it involves everyone hiding, except for one person who does the seeking. After counting up to a certain number, the person who isn’t hiding calls out, “Ready or not, here I come!”, and then goes out to find those who are hiding. There is great anticipation and eager expectation as everyone waits to be found. The waiting of Advent has now given way to the joy of Christmas as the Word-made-flesh has come to dwell among us. On the First Sunday of Advent, I stood before you and said that when people ask me, “Are you ready for Christmas?”, my standard reply is, “The good news is that whether we are ready or not, Christmas still comes.” Maybe we didn’t get everything done that we wanted to get done before this day arrived. Maybe we didn’t get all the cards sent out, or the baking done, or the shopping finished. But the good news remains: Christmas still comes. The gift of Jesus is still given. “Ready or not, here I come!”
For much of the world, today is a holiday, but that word “holiday” itself began is a contraction of two words: “holy day.” Behind the holiday of Christmas there is the holy day of the birth of Christ; the Incarnation of the Son of God; his becoming flesh and dwelling among us here on earth. Behind all the tinsel and glitter there is the miracle of God’s love taking on human form. At Christ’s first coming in Bethlehem, God called out, “Ready or not, here I come!” Was the world ready for the Son of God? Perhaps they were no more ready then than we are now, and yet God was ready, and the gift was given. After his life of obedience to the Father’s will, his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus promised that he would come again, and that is what we look for. When God calls out again, “Ready or not, here I come!”, will we be ready? The One who was wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger is the Lord of heaven and earth. He was born for you and for me, to take upon himself our brokenness and shame; to give us new hearts that are fashioned after his own heart of love. All this through him whose crib would lead to a cross. All this for you.
In one of the Christmas cards that my family and I received this year was a marvelous poem by a man named Malcom Guite – a name probably not familiar to you. He wasn’t familiar to me, either. “Malcolm Guite [pronounced “gait”] is an English poet, singer-songwriter, Anglican priest, and academic. Born in Nigeria to British expatriate parents, Guite earned degrees from Cambridge and Durham universities. His research interests include the intersection of religion and the arts, and the examination of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and British poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He is currently a Bye-Fellow and chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge and associate chaplain of St Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge. On several occasions, he has taught as visiting faculty at several colleges and universities in England and North America” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Guite). His poem on the Christmas card is entitled, “Christmas on the Edge”:
Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.
God-in-Christ has come into our world and into our lives in order to realign all things. To realign something is put that thing back into alignment, whether it be the front end of our car, our back or neck, or entire systems and institutions. To straighten; to recalibrate; to restore – that is what the Word-made-flesh has come to do in each of our lives. It is an ongoing process in each of our lives as we daily die to sin and rise to new life in him who loves us and laid down his life for us. From Bethlehem to Nazareth to Jerusalem to Calvary to font and altar, God-in-Christ comes to us today to realign our lives; to put us back into alignment with him who is that “light which shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
God-in-Christ, the Word-made-flesh, who cried out, “Ready or not, here I come!”, and entered our sorry world to realign, redeem, and restore all things according to his blessed plan and purpose, now calls each one of us to be part of his divine realignment. Isn’t this what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? And what does this realignment look like in real time? It is closer to each one of us than we might think. It doesn’t happen “out there” somewhere, but happens “in here” – in each of our hearts and minds. Many years ago, I received a Christmas card, and I have kept it all these years. Its message is about that divine realignment in our lives and what it looks like. That cards reads:
Every time a hand reaches out to help another… that is Christmas.
Every time someone puts anger aside and strives for understanding… that is Christmas.
Every time people forget their differences and realize their loves for each other… that is Christmas.
That is Christmas, thanks be to God. Amen.