By Adam Brown –
[The following is an open letter I sent to my church today]
December 20, 2017
Dear Southshore Family,
We are five days until Christmas Day. Four days until our Sunday worship on Christmas Eve. A mere three days until our Christmas Eve “Eve” service on Saturday night. For me, one day until I depart for my family Christmas in Coldstream, the rural hamlet where I grew up.
Are we ready? What does it even mean to be ready?
- Pre-Christmas December traditions properly achieved. . . check.
- Shopping finished. . . check.
- Classic turtles in a Christmas tin ready to eat (and partially eaten). . . check.
- Plans confirmed. . . check.
- Workplace tasks accomplished. . . check.
- Sleep hours banked. . . check.
- Vitamins and Cold FX supporting weary immune system. . . check.
- Awkward in-law encounters anticipated. . . check.
- Fridge stocked. . . check.
- Turkey in freezer. . . check.
- Vehicles ready for distance driving. . . check.
- Presents wrapped. . . check.
- Clementines in a bowl on the counter. . . check.
- Bing Crosby queued. . . check.
- House tidied and cleaned. . . check.
- Heart in awe of Christ. . . ?
- Recent sins confessed. . . ?
- Worship times with the church deeply anticipated. . . ?
- Wounded relationships restored. . . ?
- Memories of departed loved ones treasured and cried over. . . ?
- Recurring sin problem crucified. . . ?
- Prayer life revamped. . . ?
- Sacrificial giving cherished. . . ?
- Marriage rejuvenated. . . ?
- Fatherhood of God revisited. . . ?
- Return of Christ desired above all else. . . ?
- Opportunities for evangelism expected. . . ?
- Bible poured over. . . ?
- Humble neediness remembered. . . ?
- True joy – not secular happiness of the season – authentically experienced. . . ?
When I look at these two lists, I have to admit that I am much more accomplished in the first than in the second. And, this is not without effort either! This year, more than most, I have really tried to make an effort toward the second list. And yet, with all honesty, I would have to admit that, based on the second list, I am not yet ready for Christmas.
How about you?
The good news of Christmas is that God does not wait for us to be ready. He comes even when we are not ready. And this too is something to praise God for.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Jesus was born and He died while we were still sinners. We weren’t ready for Him and, in many ways, we are still not ready for Him. But, He is ready for us, and in God’s mercy, this is more than enough. O praise Him!
I am praying for you this Christmas and always. May we all shift our focus more and more from the first list to the second. The more items on the second list we receive and achieve, the closer we will come to experiencing the last goal on that list, namely true Christmas joy.