I was filling up my car with gas earlier this week, and in our instant culture – spending a minute and a half filling up your tank feels like forever.  So I’m looking around at the different posters, Christmas specials and various Christmas decorations – and  get this sinking feeling in my gut.  Here I am barely ‘keeping my head above water’ with the busyness of work and life and kids and school and schedules and budgets and stress… and I was just like – oh boy – I’m Not Ready For Christmas 

And it wasn’t just ready for presents or parties – it was the whole season – and my heart kinda sank as I thought to myself, ‘What if I don’t have a meaningful Christmas?’

What if me being ‘not ready’ means the season will just pass – and there won’t be anything incredible or meaningful about it?

But in that moment I had a profound realization.  That first Christmas with Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds and everyone – they weren’t ‘ready’ either.  God didn’t wait for them to be prepared or focused or attentively gazing at the skies waiting

God simply entered their lives, exactly the way they were.

You see, the temptation is sometimes to think if we can just focus hard enough or visit 13 Christmas services, or light the candles just right, or pray a certain way, or read the nativity story at just the right time, or listen to the exact right Christmas song in the exact right moment, we can somehow conjure up the presence of God.  We can have this ‘Emmanuel – God with us’ moment.  But the mistake we make is thinking it’s somehow all on our shoulders.

We think that the story of Emmanuel, God with us, is somehow dependent on us… but it’s not.

The story is about God taking the first step – about God offering – God initiating – God stepping out – God putting himself on the line – God saying ready or not, here I come!

And it’s really good news

And so the Emmanuel  moments happen driving kids to school, in the little victories at work, in the laughter before bed time, in the peaceful soul, in love, in friendship… it’s about God right there in the midst of us… with us.

The all familiar passage in John 3:16 – says God so loved the world he gave his only Son… the act is something that comes from God – in fact Romans says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…

It’s not about you being good enough, being sinless, being ready, being prepared, or being anything other than you are right now…

Because the gift of Emmanuel is available to you right now.

God is with you, right now.