The long awaited Christmas season has finally arrived—the Christmas music is playing
on our radios, our neighborhoods are slowly beginning to glow from Christmas trees shining through the windows, gift displays are filling the stores, and the Hallmark Christmas movies are in full swing.
Each year, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of Christmas season, excited for the cozy nights spent at home with family, the beautiful Christmas services at church, and the extra time to truly reflect on the reason for the season—the humble birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Word becoming flesh. However, if you’re like me, it often seems that I reach the end of Christmas and look back thinking “I had such greater intentions for this Christmas season.” Maybe it’s the busy holiday schedules… maybe it’s the temptation to use Christmas break as a time to be lazy… maybe it’s the distraction of earthly gifts… maybe it’s just a big ole’ mix of all these things.
So the question that we must ask ourselves is: “How can I be proactive now in preparing myself and my heart for what God has planned to do in me and through me this Christmas?”
An answer that Rob offered us this Sunday and that we plan to meditate on throughout Advent comes from a Christmas hymn that all of us know and sing each year:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come:
Let Earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.
Let every heart prepare Him room. Wow. I have sung these words countless times, but as we reflected on them this Sunday, I realized that I’ve tended to neglect the true importance of what this means. What would it look like if rather than running full speed into Christmas this year, I instead slowed down and took the time to truly prepare room in my heart for The Lord and His coming? Preparation doesn’t just happen naturally—it takes work and it’s intentional.
In Luke, we read the story of the Birth of Jesus:
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2: 4-7)
We read these words, we see the story acted out in our church’s Christmas pageants, we sing the songs that tell this story…. And something within us stirs.
Jesus. Our King. Our Redeemer. Our Savior. The one who will hang on a cross and take on the weight of our sin, so that we may receive forgiveness and eternal life.
Here is a baby who has come to change the world. Who has come to save us.
And there was no room for Him in the inn?
Throughout Jesus’ entire life, we see Him—our King—live in love and humility, and it began the very night He was born. Our God, who is worthy of ALL glory and honor and power, came to us as a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. As we close our eyes and picture this night, we can’t help but to think, “But Lord, You deserve more!”
Father, why don’t I view my heart the same way?
Help me to prepare You room.
Truly preparing room in our hearts for Jesus may require us to move some of the things that have been currently taking up that space. And that can be hard. But as we move them, and as we prayerfully take time to prepare Him room, we know that on Christmas morning, when we shout “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!” we will be able to truly understand, truly rejoice, and truly receive the true gift of Christmas.
-Anna Maria Gardiner