It’s been stuck in my head. Like a line from a song.
Oh, wait. It is a line from a song. One that probably topped the charts a little while ago.
It’s a line from the beloved Christmas hymn, ‘Joy to the World.’
It’s a song of triumph and celebration. It lifts your spirit. And it’s just so… joyful (yeah, super original idea there!).
As for the line I’ve been singing and mulling over?
“Let every heart prepare Him room.”(Or, more precisely, roo-oo-oom)
It’s like Issac Watts, who wrote the song way back in 1719 (thanks Wikipedia), knew that almost three centuries down the road we would face the Crisis of Christless Christmas. He probably had an inking that in the midst our celebrating we would forget the Guest of Honor. Mr Watts had stumbled on one of our time’s greatest ironies: we get so wrapped up in our gifts that we forget to unwrap the Greatest Gift of all.
We give in to commercialism. We fight commercialism with homemade. We stuff stockings. We stuff our faces. We buy and we bake. We get elves for our shelves. We get bathroom towels embroidered with snowmen and reindeer. We even throw in a ‘Jesus, The Reason for the Season,’ pillow on the couch for good measure.
But preparing room for Christ in our hearts?
That may have to wait till January. You know, start the new year off on the right note.
But, Issac Watts reminds us that Advent is a time of anticipating the arrival of the King.
I liken it to how the hubbers and I go overboard with prepping for house guests. I may have mentioned in earlier posts – the husband is neat freak extraordinaire and thanks to nine years of osmosis, I’ve been turned.
So, here’s how the guest room analogy fits in with Christ’s coming:
Taking the time
There is no getting around it – life is busy. Hosting another family in your home requires a mega time commitment. It requires clearing your schedule to make sure they’re comfortable, entertained and have clean towels.
In the midst of the Christmas frenzy, we need to carve out time for Christ. Our pastor recently mentioned that the antithesis to fearing God is forgetting God. Not denying Him. Not offending Him. Just omitting Him.
Like the Christmas cards that X Christ out. That may make some roll their eyes. Maybe it is an overly simplistic view. But how would you like it if someone addressed a card to you with, “Dear X”?
Cleaning out the unnecessary stuff
Our guest room is multi-functionalism at its best. It’s a 11 x 11 room that we have worked down to its bare bones. It’s an office, it’s a playroom, it’s a guest room, it’s the room where one parent crashes when the master bedroom is too full of little peeps who don’t belong in there.
As a result, before house guests arrive, there’s always a heap of stuff shuttled off to Goodwill.
This Advent focus on ridding your schedule of the unnecessary. Learn to say no to one more commitment. Learn to say yes where it counts. De-cluttering Christmas may be just what your soul needs.
David says in Psalm 27, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple..”
Can you think of the last time the ONE thing you wanted was to seek Him? When the ONLY thing you sought was to gaze upon His beauty? (I know that was rhetorical…but I say, me neither)
Rearranging the layout
Before guests arrive, our guest room gets a mini-makeover. It’s like HGTV crew came in – on a very, very low budget. Our sofa bed magically transforms into a queen bed with a fancy blue (oops, l mean azure) comforter. We re-arrange furniture, empty shelves of toys, display accent pieces that have nothing to do with Lego StarWars. Sometimes I even indulge in buying new curtains and flowers. There was this one time I wanted to impress the in-laws and actually painted some wall art for the room. (Of course, art is a term I use rather loosely, but that’s another story.)
Those little changes make our guests feel at home.
And sometimes we need those little tweaks to nudge us closer to Christ. Rethink, re-arrange and refocus so Christ has room. I love our family tradition of singing ‘Happy Birthday Dear Jesus’ on Christmas morning and having the kids cut a cake. It’s a simple idea. Not original and will probably be balked at in a few years. But, for now, it puts the focus on Christ. And everyone gets cake.
Having a welcoming attitude
No matter how perfectly arranged the room is, if I don’t have a heart of love for my guests it will soon become obvious that I’m putting up with them in the line of duty. I don’t want to do what I’m doing because I have to. I do what I’m doing as a response to their love or our friendship.
In the same vein, we can’t force ourselves to make room for Christ. We simply do it in response to the Sovereign One who gave up His majesty for a manger, who traded in His Kingship for a Cross.
Is there room for Him in our hearts this Christmas? Or we going to have to turn him away because our lives are too full to accommodate the abundant life that He promises?