Are you ready!?
The usual festivities around Christmas is starting much earlier with each succeeding year. There are many who will rightly be concerned about the over-commercialization associated with this momentous event in the Christian calendar. And then of course, there is a message that we never want people to forget even in the middle of everything else that happens before the actual day itself. The one question which keeps popping up, and which is no doubt, in the minds of all of those who either enjoy the secularized Christmas, or who want to focus on the key message is this: What else do we now need, to be fully ready?
How to answer this of course depends on how long we have had to plan, prepare and put into place what is fundamentally the most essential element of what for ourselves, regardless, is a truly excellent Christmas.
The concern about how long it takes to be ready was recently addressed for me when I came to introduce the first Sunday in Advent by inviting members of our congregation to the lighting the Candle of Promise. The text we used on that Sunday was Matthew’s gospel chapter 1 verse 17 (NIV) – “Thus, there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.” The mathematically astute among us shouted: 42! Yes, forty-two generations, is how long Matthew records that, God had been preparing for the first Christmas event. But it was not a secret plan, as we find when we read through the scriptures. On the contrary, God had gone into all possible levels to prepare the people, and the place so that when Christmas finally came, everyone involved would be ready.
The second follow-up question must therefore be: What have you put in place for your own Christmas event?
To answer that, at least in part, I am inclined to return to the following three Sundays in Advent before finally arriving at the Christmas Day itself. The main themes of Advent for many church-going people must surely be: The Promise which God fulfills, the Light that shines in our world; Hope – that we can all hold on to; Joy which transcends mere happiness. And to cap it all – the message of God’s Love to all humankind. Once that simple message gets through, and if it manages to get through, then Christmas must surely be perfect – even if, as we know, many people will be going into this Christmas like the gentleman (a local retired fisherman) who came to see me this morning, just to ask if I have any food hamper left to give him as he has nothing for Christmas.
Sadly, and this will be a very common story for many of us in our ports, there are many people who are going into this Christmas; not feeling ready, certainly not in the way we might expect to be. But if they know that someone does truly care this Christmas, that for them may make an enormous difference this year!
Rev George Ayoma