“Are you ready for Christmas?” I have either asked, or been asked that question countless times this Christmas season. It is the small talk conversation starter of choice in the month of December. It’s what we say when we don’t know what to say. But what are we really saying when we ask this question?
I can only speak for myself, but when I ask someone, “Are you ready for Christmas?” I’m asking if they have finished buying presents. I may also be asking if they have finished wrapping presents, decorating the Christmas tree, and planning the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day meals. There is a lot wrapped up in this question, but shouldn’t there be more than the details of our celebration?
Now don’t get me wrong. I love to celebrate Christmas. My family has taken to calling me Clark Griswold, and I don’t really care. I love it all…the lights, the movies, the gifts, the family time. But I also am beginning to listen to my own heart when I ask the question. I suppose there is a fine line between celebration and exhaustion. And maybe the search for the perfect celebration is really just a recipe for exhaustion. My body doesn’t need anymore exhaustion. Neither does my heart. How about your’s?
This sense of exhaustion ought to tell us something about our priorities, shouldn’t it? And that leads me to the deeper realization I have when I consider the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” When I ask it, I am making a functional statement about the true meaning of Christmas. These days, everyone from Charlie Brown to the Hallmark Channel will offer a definition for the true meaning of Christmas, but maybe the Bible has the best answer.
Christmas means God became man. It means Jesus left his throne of glory to be born as a baby, in a barn. He came that we might see first hand the glory of God. He came to rescue hopeless sinners by securing our forgiveness. He came to restore us into intimate relationship with our God and Father. He came to crush our enemy. He came to die, that we might have life…and have it abundantly.
It took a Person to do this…a person who walked and ate and slept and befriended and loved and wept and taught and served. It took a Person who was both God and man. This is the true meaning of Christmas, and in no way should it diminish our family celebrations. If anything, it should make them more festive. But rather than exhaustion, this meaning of Christmas builds in me a greater anticipation.
What if we meant more when we asked “the question?” How would it change our conversations (not to mention our own hearts) if what we really meant was “Are you ready to experience and celebrate the joy of the incarnation of Jesus Christ?”
So how about now? Now, are you ready for Christmas?