My kids went off to school today slowly and unwillingly because they have already started considering Christmas, and our vacation that follows.  

The countdown has begun in earnest.  

As I sit here writing, I am getting one email notification after another from retailers and online purveyors of various goods and services.  They are telling me that this is the last day that I can guarantee delivery before Christmas. 

There's so much urgency in the air, isn't there?  The questions that hovers over all of us right now go something like this:  "Do you have all your gifts purchased?"  "Do you have everything you need for all of those parties?"  "Do you have the right things to wear for every event?"  

But the question that often gets overlooked in this week's frenzy of doing is the one that was asked by John the Baptist to the crowds he addressed in the first century---crowds who were waiting desperately for a Savior. 

"Are you ready for this?"  John asked.   "Are you ready for the Messiah?  Are you ready to be made new?"  

Being ready for the arrival of Jesus provides us with an alternative to all of the other preparations we think we need to make.  When we focus on being ready for Jesus, we find ourselves focused on peace, hope, love and joy---and not so much on the tyranny of the urgent.  

Theologian Walter Brueggeman speaks directly into this grace-filled and life-giving preparedness.  He states that when we seek the newness of life that is found in Jesus' arrival, we find much more than we imagined.  He writes: 

"Jesus offers a catalog of newnesses, of miracles, of wonders, transformations that take people in their fear and failure and disability and wrap their lives in newness beyond themselves." 

May you enter more fully into Jesus' catalog of newnesses today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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