“But about that day or hour no one knows… –Matthew 24:36a
At a press conference today in Nazareth, Archaeologist I.M.Fixion holds up a fragile set of scrolls, and makes the following announcement:
“These scrolls were recovered from an ancient rubbish heap outside of Nazareth. They have been dated to somewhere around 10 a.d. They appear to be a stack of birthday cards…to Jesus.
“That’s right. These are cards written to Jesus on the occasion of his surprise 10th birthday party. One is from an aunt Elizabeth, some are from a bunch of shepherds, and even some very expensive cards appear to come from distant royalty.
“Of course, this is a find of extreme importance, but there’s more.” He gestures to several of the pages. “The cards all list the date of Jesus’ birthday. Adjusting for changes in calendar and so forth, there can be no doubt. Jesus was born…
“On December 8th. Thank you.”
Surprise! CHRISTMAS IS IN 4 DAYS!
Jesus may (or may not) have had a surprise 10th birthday party, but his birthday has never been a surprise for us. There it sits on the calendar, bottom of December, circled in red and green. We know what’s coming, we make our lists, we plan it out. No surprise.
But what if Christmas showed up unexpectedly, say, on December 10th? What if there wasn’t enough time to do all the million and one holiday traditions we’ve laid out over the course of our lives? What if Christmas came as a surprise, leaving us to celebrate without all the boxes in our garage, or all the excess baggage in our hearts?
If you had to celebrate the birth of Jesus right away, how would you do it?
Here’s what I think I’d do:
I guess I’d pray.
And give some $ to the church or a charity.
And volunteer somewhere.
And call my family.
And go to church.
What would you do? In the face of a surprise Christmas, maybe we’d have to let the other stuff go, and focus on what’s most important. Remember, Jesus doesn’t really need tinsel, or a plate of cookies, or a bunch of parties, or even an overpriced birthday card. If a simpler, more spiritual Christmas celebration sounds as enticing to you as it does to me, maybe we can dial back a little on the pomp and circumstance, and surprise Jesus with an Advent filled with meaning.
This year, for Jesus’ birthday, all he really wants us to send him is our attention, and our devotion.
Those are the real Hallmarks of a Merry Christmas.
Have a great Advent,