People are preparing for the Christmas season around the globe: fridges are being stocked, presents bought, lights strung up, and rooms prepared to receive family and friends. How do you prepare for Christmas? I tend to focus on the “endgame” since Christmas day seems to have a universal pattern: presents, food, lounging. Here are a few personal trade secrets:
1) Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing with a lot of “give” in them, stretchy shorts or sweat-pants.
2) Strategically hide crucial remotes for personal deployment along the day, such as television or temperature controls. Christmas morning may start off with an orderly dispersal of presents but soon the paper hits the fan and it’s going to look like a Christmas bombshell, you need to prepare.
Last year was particularly bad: boxes all over the house, paper in every corner…my brother Dave and I spent far too much time around the table eating honey glazed ham (you can judge me, it was worth it). Suddenly, we both made a move for the couch and a slow laborious fat-man race began. Dave had the lead but he mistakenly wore fashionable tight-fitting skinny jeans, amateur. A cramp got him. He fell in a pile of tinsel and paper while I breezed by in my stretchy sweat pants. Bonus, nobody was watching the television. The remote was mysteriously “missing”. I “found it” hiding under a cushion! It’s naughty but it feels nice. We might prepare for Christmas in different ways but I wonder how many people have prepared to receive the very best part of Christmas, the gift of Jesus.
The famous original audience of Christ’s birth announcement received the news holding postures we might identify ourselves with today. The Shepherd’s reached out hoping for something better within their difficult life of poverty and social “irrelevance”. The “Wise Men” were on a spiritual journey, searching the skies for meaning and significance. King Herod pushed away and rejected any notion of a Savior King, while Mary opened her hands in a humble reception of Christ’s birth.
There might be areas of our lives in which we recognize a part of us in each character’s posture: places we reach out hoping for something better in our struggles, places we search for meaning and significance, places we are reluctant to let Christ become our Savior, but Christmas invites all to make room to receive the gift of Christ with open hands. Christians celebrate because God entered into humanities deepest struggles and questions to offer hope and significance. In what posture have we prepared to receive this joyous announcement of God with us? Spiritual seekers, reluctant believers, may we become like Mary, humble receivers of the greatest gift of Christ.