December 24, 2015 - Christmas Eve - Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming

Christmas Eve 2015

"Ready or not, here I come!"

The Rev. R. Bingham Powell

Do you remember playing the game hide-and-go-seek as a child?

            You would go try and find the perfect hiding place

                        while one kid would cover her eyes and count 1,2,3...

                        All the way until whatever number you would all agreed upon.

            Finally, that kid would would shout "Ready or not, here I come!"

That is how I feel about Christmas right now.

We've been counting throughout Advent

            - lighting our candles on the wreath and opening our calendars -

                        and Christmas just called out "Ready or not, here I come!"

You've decorated the house... or not.

You've put up the tree and the lights... or not.

You've sent the Christmas cards,

            you've made or purchased the gifts,

                        you've wrapped the presents... or not.

You've finished your Christmas sermon... or not.

Just like when that the kid has called "Ready or not, here I come,"

            and maybe you had just enough time to jump into your hiding space,

                        maybe you, now at Christmas, have enough time to wrap one more present,

                        but pretty much, it's over.

The preparations are done, whether we are ready or not.

The same was true of Jesus' birth over 2000 years ago.

He did not wait until all was perfectly ready before he came.

He simply came.

In the middle of the census,

            in the middle of a journey,

                        in the middle of a housing crisis,

                                    he came.

Ready or not, he came.

Like most of us, his parents had to figure it out on the fly.

He came when he came.

And they had to place him in a manger,

            because there was no other place for him.

Ready or not, he came.

In the middle of the night,

            when the shepherds were safely settled in for the night

                        with their sheep well-protected,

            the Angels announced that Jesus came,

            sending the shepherds out from the safety of their night watch to go verify the news and praise him.

Ready or not, he came.

There is a poem by the acclaimed author Madeleine L'Engle that sums up this reality so well. She says of Jesus:

He did not wait till the world was ready,

till men and nations were at peace

He came when the Heavens were unsteady

and prisoners cried out for release.


He did not wait for the perfect time.

He came when the need was deep and great.

He dined with sinners in all their grime,

turned water into wine. He 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.


He 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,

He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!


Ready or not, Jesus came.

To Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds, to us.

Jesus came.

If God had waited until all was ready,

            we would still be waiting for that first coming,

                        for that first Christmas morning,

                                    for we are never ready.

And it is precisely because we were not ready

            and still are not ready, 

                        that he came.

For a perfect, ready world has no need for a savior

            to heal its wounds and repair its brokenness.

A perfect, ready world has no need for the incarnation of God

            to stand in solidarity with us in our pain and sorrow.

A perfect, ready world has no need for the light of Christ

            which illuminates all the dark places of our life.

Ready or not, he came.

And ready or not, he comes.

We are still a people who walk in darkness as Isaiah so poetically puts it.

It is in our continued unreadiness that Jesus still comes

            born anew and placed in the manger of our hearts.

When we least expect it, where we least expect it, Jesus comes.

            In the most unlikely manner and time and place, Jesus comes.

            In a little child, in a dirty manger, in a cold night, Jesus comes.

            In a stranger, in someone hungry, in a prisoner, Jesus comes.

            In our brokenness, in our sorrow, in our grief, Jesus comes.

            In our pain, in our fear, in our darkness, Jesus comes.

Ready or not, Jesus comes. Amen.