“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.”
— Luke 2:6 KJV
The King James Version of the Bible is what many of us are used to when hearing the Christmas Story. This version gives us a word that we can truly understand. That word is accomplished.
Doesn’t it often seem as if our days in December are consumed with trying to get things accomplished? We spend the better part of the season running around, adding to our already hectic, full lives, the things that have to be accomplished. We have to accomplish the decorating of our homes. We have to accomplish a good deal of shopping for those who mean something to us. We then have to accomplish the wrapping of the aforementioned presents, unless like me, you use gift bags. It is so much easier. Some of us accomplish a great deal of cooking and cleaning. Many of us will accomplish travelling to see family and friends. So much, it seems, has to be accomplished.
And while Christmas day draws closer and closer, we grow tireder and tireder. Certainly these things we accomplish are meant for good. All of it meant to celebrate the season. All done in preparation for Christmas Day. That is, after all, what Advent is about. It is a season of preparation. That is what we are told. That is how we talk about it. Prepare. Work hard. Accomplish things. All of this so that we can be ready for the birth of Jesus.
But is that what Christmas is about?
Is Christmas about our ability to accomplish this or that?
Is it about getting prepared for that which God has done, and is doing?
How much of Christmas coming is about what we do?
When it comes to talking about the cross of Calvary, we are quick to say that Jesus died to bring about salvation, not because of anything that we did to deserve it. In that way, the cross is God’s grace for his people, not because we were prepared for it, or accomplished enough to earn it, but because of God’s great love for us. The same is true for Christmas. The manger is God’s grace for us. Christmas isn’t about what we accomplish or how well we have gotten ourselves prepared -- it can’t be. Instead, Luke’s Gospel tells us that when the days were accomplished, Jesus was born. In God’s time, and on God’s terms, Christmas happened. Which means that Christmas is about what God accomplishes for poor sinners like you and me.
Christmas isn’t about being prepared. It’s actually about not being prepared. When the world was not prepared for it, Christmas happened. It happens again today in the hearts of those who simply choose to embrace the love of God made perfect in the child born to Mary and Joseph. This child born so long ago, will accomplish on the cross the work of reconciliation and redemption that began in the manger in Bethlehem. How incredible.
This Christmas, let us trust that it isn’t about what we accomplish or how prepared we are. Take a deep breath and relax. Christmas comes regardless of our efforts. Instead, let us choose to simply embrace the Christ Child, and put him first in our hearts, our minds, and the living out of our lives.
Chris Leonard is a pastor at Rock Presbyterian ECO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.