Relax, it's Christmas. It's almost a laughable statement. With all the greetings of a peaceful and quiet season, this time of year can be anything but calm. There's too much to do and not enough hours in the day. The daylight grows shorter and the to-do lists grow longer. The bitter cold air sweeps in only to bring harsh weather without the picturesque white Christmas.
A work party here, a friend's party there. Preparing gifts and treats, volunteering, singing, writing Christmas cards, mailing gifts, being cheerful. And, so it goes on and on and on.
And then there's Advent. Preparing Christmas for family, friends, and co-workers is one thing, but how do you prepare for God Himself?
I've seen and heard the pre-Christmas statements countless times already. Jesus is the reason for the season, so be sure to keep Him in Christmas. Make room in your heart for Jesus this season. Jesus died for you, what are you going to do for Him? In other words—you better watch out! Jesus is coming to town. You better not pout or cry. He's making a list and you better be on the nice side.
But, is that really what Advent is about? Is Advent our end of year evaluation with the Almighty? Is our God waiting to come until we've prepared a place in our hearts for Him?
If Jesus comes to evaluate our condition, we would be condemned. So then, why does Jesus show up?
Jesus shows up not just because we need Him to show up for us, but because He is promised for us.
Advent is not about what we can do to impress God or make certain that He has a grand arrival because of our efforts. Jesus doesn't wait around for us to make preparations. He just shows up to a world bound to the slavery and tyranny of sin, death, and the devil.
The saints of the Old Testament went year after year to the temple to sacrifice a lamb to atone for their sins. Year after year. There was nothing they could sacrifice to fully and finally take away their sin. They were waiting on the true Lamb of God, the one promised in a garden long ago. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15.)
Jesus does not come to see how we will welcome Him. He does not come to make a list of who is bad or good because there is no list. Only a book of life. And He has come to write our names in that book.
Instead of a welcome party for God incarnate, there is a harsh feeding trough and a less than ideal shelter awaiting his birth. Yet, Christ shows up for us. He shows up to a world that will despise, reject, and will crucify Him when they have the opportunity.
Just as there was no room for Him at Bethlehem, so there is no room for Him in our sinful hearts apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Who, as Luther states, "called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."
Jesus is coming to town, He's coming to you. It doesn't matter if you're naughty or think that you're nice. It doesn't matter if you're crying or pouting or having a good day. Jesus isn't a mild-mannered house guest that calls to make sure he's welcome before showing up at your door. He comes because we need a substitute. We need Christ to break us from our slavery to sin and give us life that only He can give.
So, relax. Christ is risen and has defeated your death. Christ is with you. He will come for you again. He's coming to you, not just this Christmas, but every week in Word and Sacrament. He's coming to scrap the lists and exchange your status, naughty for righteous. Come gather with the saints. Join in the Christmas and Easter feast of the Lamb of God who gives to us His body and blood for the forgiveness of all our sins. It's the most wonderful exchange. It's a gift exchange where you don't bring anything. Jesus already took your sin and now gifts you with His righteousness.