Are You Ready?
Well, here we are at the Fourth Sunday of Advent. If you are like me, you too have been hearing for several weeks now from people you meet the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Some answer that they are. I think many of us answer that we aren’t. Some of us live in hopes that one of these years we’ll be ready by Christmas Eve. This year I’m thinking I might be ready for Christmas by Epiphany! But it’s the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas will happen on schedule, regardless of whether I’m ready or not.
It strikes me that living in God’s time is much like being ready for Christmas, whether on the correct calendar day or not. Things happen when the time is right for them. King David wanted to build a home for God in Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant was still in the tent in which it had rested since the Law was given in the Sinai Desert – at the beginning of the 40 years the Israelites traveled in the desert after leaving Egypt.
David had a lovely new palace and decided it was time for God (present in the Ark) to have a nice place too. But the Lord, through Nathan the prophet, told David the time was not right and he was not the right person to do it. What a disappointment for David! The Lord reminded him that all the military success that had led to peace in the land had been accomplished through the Lord’s support. But although David would not be the one to build a temple for the Ark, one of David’s descendants would rule over a kingdom that would last forever. This ruler and God would have a relationship like that of father and son – a close, loving relationship. (2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16)
Mary was a person who wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary to happen in her life. She was probably in her early teens. Engaged to be married. Ready to live the life of a wife and mother. Excited and likely a bit scared too. After all, it’s a big deal to have a husband and family to care for. And then her life changed. She was visited by an angel, Gabriel by name, who told her God had other plans. Would she be willing to have a child that would not be quite the same as everyone else? Would she be willing to let God work in amazing ways in her life and through her body? Blessedly for all of us, Mary gave her consent. She didn’t have to, but she did. And nothing has been quite the same since that day. Her son, a descendant of David, fulfilled the ancient prophecy. (Lk 1:26-38)
The child born to Mary changed history. His coming ushered in a new understanding of the relationship between God and humans. New ways of living. New ways of forgiving. New ways of service. New understandings of God’s love for even the humblest person.
I don’t know if the house will be clean. The tree is still in the process of being decorated. Some of the tamales have been made. Others are in a “some assembly required” state yet. I think we have gifts for all who will come, but most are not yet wrapped. Fortunately, not everyone will be here on Christmas Day. Some things will keep an extra day or two before they need to be finished. In the meanwhile, I am going to enjoy the Fourth Sunday of Advent and its quick morning to afternoon transition to Christmas Eve.
Are you ready? Am I ready? This is the question of the day. I pray that we are ready to meet the Lord in all the many ways and times he appears in our lives.
May these next few days be filled with the blessing of love and family and friends. The rest of the “trimmings” are just that – trimmings.
Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle B