Ready or Not

December 21, 2017

Here’s my Advent confession: I struggle with all of our church talk about “getting ready” and “being prepared for the Christ Child” in this season.

The truth is that most of things I’ve done to be “ready” over the past few weeks have been about being ready for December 25 and not so much about being ready for Jesus. I’ve sent Christmas cards, driven across town and back in search of the perfect gift (and eventually just any gift) for the people on my list, attended parties, and decorated my home. But none of that really has anything to do with Jesus and his Gospel of hope, peace, joy, and love, and, quite honestly, I think Jesus shook his head at me when I made my gazillionth trip to Target for “just one more thing” last week.

Besides, how exactly do we know if we’re ready for God’s grand entrance into the world? And even if we think we are ready, how can we know for sure? Can anyone really be ready for Jesus?

Maybe someone can, but I’m not that person. So I find great comfort in Madeleine L’Engle’s poem First Coming. I’m grateful for the reminder that God is coming into the world whether we are ready or not. Most of all, I’m grateful that God’s love for this world isn’t contingent upon our being ready to receive it.

God did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

God came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

– “First Coming” by Madeleine L’Engle

~Katelyn Gordon Cooke