The other day, our water heater went out. We called our friendly plumber and he came out later that afternoon and, after disappearing into the basement for a few minutes, he resurfaced with good news. Well, sort of good news.
He found the problem and could fix the problem — just as soon as the replacement part could be ordered and received. Currently, with the pandemic interrupting the supply lines of plumbing parts, they projected it would take two weeks for the part to come in. All was not lost, however. I could still flip the water heater on and it would work until the faulty part tripped the breaker. There would be enough hot water to get a shower, or wash the dishes, but not both.
So, every day Jeannie and I would have a meeting and decide how we would use our hot water for that day. Who would get a shower and when we would wash clothes and then, we would do it all over again the next morning. I would go down to the basement, flip the breaker, and hurry back up to get my shower before the breaker flipped again.
I know. First-world problems. There were moments of character building when the breaker would flip in the middle of my shower and the water would turn ice cold, ruining my morning meditation before I could get out of the shower.
For two weeks!
My wife and I would sit around at night and dream about how good life would be when the water heater got fixed and our life would be wonderful again. For a few weeks, it seemed like everything was on hold until we got our water heater fixed.
But when it got fixed, we were going to start living again.
Funny, how we spend most of our lives waiting. When we were kids, we couldn’t wait until we grew up. We couldn’t wait until we got our driver’s license, or graduated, or got married, or had kids. Then, we couldn’t wait until the kids grew up and got out on their own. We’re always waiting. Sooner or later, something was going to happen and we were going to start living.
But until then…
Over and over, the Old Testament prophets begged God, “How long?” “How long until you come and save us?” “How long until you make things new?” “How long until you return and finish all You, O God, have begun?”
After all of these years, we’re still waiting…and waiting…and waiting.
But when Jesus gets here, we’re going to get busy living. We’re going to finally deal with that long-held grudge that has been weighing down our souls. We’re going to forgive all of those who have wronged us.
We’re going to work on our marriage.
We’re going to love our neighbors.
We’re actually going to make friends with people who are different from us.
We’re going to get engaged in our local school and work with the homeless in our city.
Just wait until Jesus gets here.
And now, we celebrate Christmas with the unbelievable news that Jesus has come. While we’re still trying to get over that, the reality that Jesus is indeed here — now we have to figure out what we will do.
We’ve made all kinds of plans…made all kinds of promises…when Jesus gets here, then, we’ll get serious about life.
Part of me always has to laugh when I think about Christmas story. Yes, I love the moments we celebrate, the surrender of Mary to God’s will, the courage of Joseph to believe what he can’t explain, and all the rest. Yet, part of me thinks it is that in the small stable in Bethlehem, God arrives as the infant Jesus and calls our bluff.
We know our world is broken. It’s not just the pandemic. It’s everything.
It’s how lonely we are. Being quarantined pushed us deeper into our loneliness and despair. Social media is great, but it can’t hold your hand when you’re lonely.
It’s how broken our marriages are. Being together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week pushed many of our families to the very brink.
Our schools have struggled to respond to the challenges of providing an education to our students during this time. Our children are falling behind and teachers are stressed to their limits.
And I haven’t mentioned our hospitals and medical communities.
But this broken world is why Jesus came. It’s why you and I are called. We’re sent by Christ into His broken world to redeem it in the love and grace of His kingdom.
It’s not a matter of knowing what to do. We know what to do.
And we’re going to do it. Just as soon as Jesus gets here.
Merry Christmas. Jesus is here. God has called our bluff. What will we do now, now that Jesus is here?