Making Room at Advent

Our neighbor, Marge, faced Christmas from her bed. Battling illness, she’d grown so weak her life was pared down to activities of survival.

My friend, Jean, had emigrated from Scotland fifty years earlier and still reveled in all things Scottish. When any of us was ill, mourning, or struggling in any way, Jean’s gift was always a prayer and a tin of luscious shortbread. 

Jean remembered Marge’s comment from a previous Christmas. “My grandson said your shortbread was the best cookie he’d ever tasted.  I’d love to have your recipe so I can make him some.” Marge’s grandson, serving overseas, was coming home for Christmas and to see her before she died. So rather than shopping, or singing carols around the neighborhood, or watching Christmas movies, Jean baked shortbread. She wrapped it up in bright Christmas paper, tied it with a red bow, addressed the tag to Marge’s grandson, signed the card “Love, Grandma,” and walked it over to Marge’s. 

As we walked and talked about Christmas, Jean praised me for teaching a Bible study and said she wished she had some talent God could use. Jaw dropping, I stopped and stared at her five-foot form, then shared my disagreement. She was being God’s love to Marge and Marge’s grandson ~ yet didn’t really see it herself. Her comment highlights the way many of us have trouble knowing how to convert our beliefs into actions.

 We’ve heard that when Jesus was born, Bethlehem was crowded, and with no room available, Joseph and Mary had sought out some humble space to rest.

Whether stable, cave, or what, we don’t know exactly, but Immanuel’s first crib was a manger—a crude feed trough. In our modern world, we often hear the admonition, “Make room for The Christ Child.” But what does that mean? How do we do that nowadays?

Some ideas:

Making Room in our Hearts 

Purpose to clear out junk that may be residing there~bitterness, grudges, sin. Pray and ask for help in identifying areas that need sweeping clean, then give up keeping trash that needs evicting. If something or someone holds a position of more importance to you than God, that idol needs moving off its pedestal. If God could (and did!) give World War II concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom the ability to forgive a guard who, years later, apologized and reached to shake her hand, He can sweep clean any filthy areas I retain.

Making Room in our Lives 

Christmas season, above all others, seems to ratchet up the busy-ness. It takes focus and discipline to set priorities and limit our activities, expenditures, commitments. Or, it takes the practiced discipline of living in God’s Presence and letting him guide us moment by moment. But then, life can only be lived moment by moment—so why not let Him Who is omniscient guide our steps? 

The Christmas season in the United States is celebrated with ever bigger light displays, pageants, music. More and more activity, food, presents. But perhaps making room for The Christ whose birth we celebrate will mean forgoing some parties, avoiding some shopping malls, and collapsing on the floor with a toddler to read a Christmas story. Or spending an afternoon baking Scottish shortbread.

[adapted from a previous post]

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