December 23, 2019
Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Jesus first came to us in the midst of a crowded place and time.
The streets were filled with travelers and families and laborers and soldiers. There were meals to prepare and accommodations to be made. People were rushed and tired and frustrated…and hungry. Sound familiar?
There was no room for God when he first appeared in human skin.
The crowd didn’t recognize him.
He was merely one more baby, one more body in the mass of all the people gathered together, trying to survive.
As you have journeyed through this month, perhaps you too have found yourself burdened by travel, by plan-making and plan-keeping, cooking and cleaning, family gatherings and work parties and all the festive burdens of the Christmas season. Or maybe your home has been all too quiet; perhaps the silence of your grief or loss or loneliness has been deafening. Perhaps you have looked for ways to escape and distract yourself from the desert place that currently surrounds you.
We all know that Christmas is “supposed” to be this time of joy and celebration, and yet it can often become more like a tornado or a drought that we have to survive.
Just as Jesus came in the midst of all the messy humanness of life two-thousand years ago, he is still able to enter into our lives today, no matter what is filling – or noticeably not filling – our rooms and homes. Our God makes himself accessible to us in Jesus; he draws near to us so that we can draw near to him. He joins us in the tornado and the drought, in the frustrating busyness and in the painful silence. He shines his glory upon us, even in the midst of whatever is crowding our hearts, even when the only shelter we can offer him is an animal stall.
Remember after Jesus’s resurrection when he appeared especially to Thomas? Jesus invited him to touch the scars on his hands and on his side. He met Thomas where he was and revealed his glory to him, even in the midst of his questioning and doubt.
In the Old Testament, remember when God met Elijah in the desert? Elijah was exhausted and wanted to die, but God didn’t rebuke Elijah in his weakness. Instead, he sent an angel to feed him and take care of him. He tended to his body and allowed Elijah to rest.
Thomas had difficulties believing God; Elijah was tired of serving God. Neither of them were really “ready” for God when he appeared. But God came anyway. God always comes anyway, even when we’re too busy or too depressed to notice.
But, we want to notice.
We want to prepare for him.
We want to make room for him in our lives.
We want to walk out from the noisy, crowded inn and find our way through the dark to the stable where the air is quiet except for the whimpering of our God-with-us.
We want to recognize his presence here, in this moment, in this place, even now.
We hear the Christmas carol, Joy to the World, playing in our cars and in our homes, and its words, “Let every heart prepare him room” resonate deeply within us.
So how do we prepare him room in our hearts today?
I don’t think that’s something that I can answer for you.
Instead, I think it’s a question for you to ask God yourself.
Perhaps the first step of preparing him room is inviting him to show you how.
God is here.
God who is here, in my busyness, in my weakness, by your Spirit help recognize your presence. Teach me how to prepare room in my heart for you in the coming days.
Spirit of God, breathe upon me.
- What busyness of the season is becoming burdensome to you as we near Christmas? Where are you tired, exhausted, frustrated? Bring these experiences and feelings to Jesus.
- How might you prepare room in your heart for God today? Ask God and see how you might be led to make room for him in your life in new ways.
Song for Meditation: