It is now the day before the day before Christmas and we are in the waning days of the Advent season of preparation for the arrival — once again — of the baby who is, for us, the incarnation of God’s love, justice and compassion in the world. Maybe we’re ready and maybe we’re not — but ever was it so: even on the First Coming … the First Christmas … as described in one of my favorite poems by the brilliant Madeleine L’Engle:
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
We cannot wait until the world is sane. And Lord knows it hasn’t gotten any saner since Madeline L’Engle wrote these words in 1997. But thankfully, Jesus did not wait until the world was ready … so ready or not, here he comes: to share our grief, touch our pain and most of all to show us how to love one another as he loved us.
Susan Russell is the Senior Associate for Communication at All Saints Church in Pasadena.