Christmas welcomes us as we are

Pastor Sue Bahleda

Island of Faith Lutheran Church

The best Christmas gift of all is that it comes. Ready or not, December 25 dawns, and Christmas is celebrated.

It doesn’t matter if all the gifts have arrived or have been wrapped. It doesn’t matter if the turkey is thawed or the last batch (or the first batch) of cookies have been baked. It doesn’t matter if the outside lights got hung, or all the doors of the Advent calendar have been opened.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Home Alone” or “Miracle on 34th Street” yet. It doesn’t matter if your uncle got arrested, or if your home has been swept away in a tornado.

It doesn’t matter if your family is changed because of a wedding, birth, divorce or death. On December 25, it’s Christmas.

Christmas is inconvenient and welcome. Christmas takes us as we are. Christmas, in all its inevitability, interrupts the hustle and bustle, the preparations and the fuss, and moves us from “prepare” to “celebrate.” Christmas announces that what we’ve done is enough, while it reminds us that what we’ve done is likely incomplete and imperfect.

Christmas calls us to be kind as we accept the wonderfully tacky gift that made someone think “that’s perfect for her!” and sings “glory” and “merry” and “joy.”

Christmas comes. It doesn’t wait for us to have everything ready, everything just so. It comes to reveal that our best efforts are incomplete and imperfect, a practical exercise in how God delights in the ways we try, and encourages us to keep trying. To keep sharing, and giving, and passing along traditions.

To wear the ugly sweater with pride. To snuggle up and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” To sponsor a food box. To gather up as a church to sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and go back out into the world announcing “Joy to the World.”

Christmas comes, insistently, every year on December 25. It comes, over and over and over again, to mark God’s deep delight in creation, and God’s desire for reconciliation, harmony, care and joy; God’s hope that we love God and our neighbor, not just December 25, but every day between now and next Christmas.

All this desire, delight and hope brought to birth on one silent, holy night, always expected, always a surprise.

For me, for you, for all. Rejoice!


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