This time of year, the customary, How are you? is replaced with the question, Are you ready for Christmas? Most of us feel a little panic when asked. Of course I’m not ready! I have a million things to do. And, no, I’d rather not hear how you finished your shopping in October.

Where has this Christmas season found you? Some years it feels like Christmas is hollering, “Ready or not, here I come!”  Happy or not. Inspired or not. Well or not. It still comes.

It comes in the guise of a holiday, but it’s so much work we’re exhausted by the new year. Have you ever regretted starting a tradition because it becomes expected and you’re not always up to it? Who came up with this math anyway? Hectic lives plus more to do equals a holly, jolly Christmas? Nope. And, unlike normal life, there’s pressure to feel magical while we do all this stuff.

I use the term Christmas loosely because what I’ve described above is extras we’ve added to the simplest, most beautiful idea: Advent. You can have as many or as few trappings as you like, but it’s only special if we’re remembering the first time Jesus came to our world. What’s special is finding Him to be our own Immanuel today. I’m committing to spending three minutes a day, sitting quietly, being still, so I can know Jesus has come. I want to feel His peace and closeness. I want to soak up His determined love that moved Him to come for me.

Christmas does come, ready or not, and that’s good. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to be cleaned up or doing well. He’s not afraid of our messiest mess and He doesn’t only want to be with us when things are shiny and twinkling. He came for us broken folks, the ones who aren’t well, the sad ones and the ones who long ago forgot what inspiration feels like. He came for you.