“Are We Ready for Christmas?”
Dec 2, 2007 – Matthew 24:36-44

We spend a lot of time waiting for things don’t we? We wait in lines, we wait for phone calls, we wait for people to complete tasks so we can continue our own work. We wait a lot. Yet, we wait a lot less than people used to. Mail has been largely been replaced by email. So hearing from our friends doesn’t mean we have to wait for the mail anymore. In fact, thanks to technology and email, we don’t even have to wait for our bills! Companies can now send them to us electronically! Microwaves, fast food, speedy check-out lines, pay at the pump gas stations, high-speed internet… all designed to help us wait less. Yet we still are an impatient people. Things still take too long.

Our gospel reading the morning speaks of waiting. But not just of waiting, but also the importance of being ready. Jesus has been talking about the end of the world, the time when he will return and gather his people. He tells of how the people of Noah’s time, simple kept living their lives as they usually did. Until the day when Noah entered the ark, and it started to rain. When the rain waters and floods came, they were washed away because they were not ready. Jesus speaks of people working, doing their daily chores, and one is taken away. Jesus speaks of the thief coming in the night, the homeowner wanting to be ready, to save his house. The people in Noah’s day were sinners, God wanted to clean things up, so had Noah build the ark. They missed the signs around them, telling them that God had things in store. They just continued to live as they had always lived. Once God acted, there was no time to prepare and be ready, it was too late. The same goes for those who are working. They are living their usual lives, until one is taken and the other is left behind. One was ready, one was not.

The thief may come in the night, but if the homeowner is aware it’s going to happen, he can be ready to keep his house from being broken into. The homeowner of course cannot guard his home all night long, our bodies need sleep. It’s the way God created us. But, we can put safeguards in place so our home cannot be compromised. We can be ready.

This of course is the first Sunday of Advent. The church’s official countdown to Christmas has begun. Just four more Sunday’s to go. Are you ready? Is your tree up yet? Your home decorated? Have you started the Christmas baking yet? Are parties planned? Arrangements made for visiting family and friends? Are you done your Christmas shopping yet? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

December is a busy month isn’t it? Full of stress as we prepare for various Christmas happenings. We are busy getting ready for the 25th. The day when we’re all finished unwrapping presents, eating a big meal, and cleaning up the messy kitchen, and living room. Then we can relax. Sometimes it might be a couple days later, but it happens. All our preparation has paid off. We can go back to our normal lives.

But are we really ready? Advent is the time in the Christian year where we get ready for more than just presents and parties. We are invited to get ready for the return of Christ. We are invited to prepare our hearts and souls for the return of the one whose birth we celebrate. We don’t know when Jesus will return. Even the angels don’t know. Only God knows. But as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are invited to reflect on just how ready we are for the day when we will return.

The workers Jesus spoke of. The two in the field, the women grinding meal, they were living their lives as they always did. Doing their work, preparing for the future by harvesting and preparing meals. They don’t know what is coming, they don’t know when Jesus will return. Yet in each example, one was ready, the other was not. One was taken to be with Jesus, the other was left.

So what does it mean to “be ready”? What are the requirements? Where is the list telling us how to be ready? Scripture holds the answer. A friend asked me the other day, “What does a God honoured, Spirit filled ministry look like for our future?” I had to think about it. As I did, two pieces of scripture came to mind. First were the great commandments Jesus reminds us of, “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” The second was from Micah, “What does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” From there, we can lives lives in which we are ready.

When we think upon those readings, and when we reflect on what scripture has to say to us today, our acts of service by living out our lives in faithful service to God’s call make us ready. In the moments in our daily lives when we work towards making the world a better place through the simple acts we do each day, we can live out our Christian calling in the world. When we follow what we feel to be God’s call in our lives, we’re being ready.

It may not require huge alterations in our lives, often we can do what we’re called to do from where we already find ourselves. Just like the workers in Jesus’ example. They continued to do the same work they always did. But they also were attentive to God’s role in their lives. They heard and paid attention to what Jesus taught, and were saved when Jesus came. They weren’t waiting for Jesus to come. But as Jesus said, they were ready.

So in this busy month, as we’re getting ready for Christmas, I ask you this question. Are you ready for Jesus? In the busyness of our lives, do we take time for God? This Advent is an invitation. An invitation to reflect on what the birth of Jesus means to us. What his life represents, and how we might live in faithful discipleship.

This is a busy time of year for all of us. There is lots to do, lots to get ready for. I hope you also make time to relax, to get the rest we need, and to give thanks for the birth of our Saviour, and the life and teachings we attempt to live out.