You see, I was reminded by Daniel Partner in a devotional book I have been reading called The Wonder of Christmas, that "The story of Bethlehem's crowded inn is a parable of the [modern] Christmas season."
We fill our hearts, and spend our time, and putter through our days shopping, and baking and prepping and running...the pace feels fast and the list seems long.
Ironically, as Joseph and Mary entered Bethlehem, the city was busy and crowded, everyone had gathered for the census and there was not enough room...not enough room in the inn...not enough room for a pregnant woman, her husband, and inevitably the baby. Of all the lives they were counting that day, this was a life that would truly count, whose birth would change the world. There was no room for them in the inn.
I don't want my life to bear modern day parallels to that inn so long ago...I don't want to look Jesus in the face and say, I'm sorry there is no room here, we are crowded and busy...I'm sorry.
So how do we make room?
We stop. We listen. We pray...oftentimes in the midst of the mess...and that is where it is hardest for me.
It is hard when the dishes peak out from the sink, and the laundry billows over the sides of baskets, clean but wrinkled and needing to be folded. It is hard when my day has been spent tending, tending, tending and I desperately just want to wiggle my nose to make the mess go away magically after the girls go to bed so that I can rest, and breathe. But, the mess is there and it will remain and I have choices to make...fold the laundry or make room for Jesus in the middle of it.
Oh my, it's so like Martha and Mary all the time, isn't it?
Do we strive to do more or stop at his feet?
And then I am reminded that while I'm spending all of this time waiting for the perfect house to have my perfect holy moment, Jesus was born in a stable...a messy, straw filled, dusty stable. And I have to stop and almost laugh aloud...if God wanted a picture of perfection could He have not ordained a way for Mary and Joseph to spend the night in a nicely groomed inn?
In this moment in which God is teaching me that my holy moments are going to happen in a messy house, because that is the season of life I am in, I am reminded of a point in Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts...it is one of the images that remains most vividly from my reading of the book.
Ann has an incredibly holy moment as she is staring at the moon one night...a mountaintop experience, so to speak, in which she fully feels the glory of God in the light of the moon. It's beautiful, it's glorious, it's holy.
And then what seems like the very next morning, or at least the very next chapter, her son throws toast in his brother's face.
Oh my goodness. I KNOW that moment...the glorious moment, followed by the toast moment and how I want to completely discredit the glorious moment because of the toast moment!!!
How I feel the urge to discredit the intimate moments I've already had with God during this advent season, the moments when he has taught me about peace, and mess and a baby in a manger because the folded laundry ends up strewn on the floor or my four year old has a tantrum over a piece of chocolate.
In the middle of Ann's toast moment she is angry and frustrated and asks herself, "Why? Can I just go back to the moon and the brazen glory?"
Oh my...I know that feeling...Can I just go back to the prayer moment, the peaceful place, the one where I felt connected to God and full of joy.
She continues asking questions...working out her faith, "How do I have the holy vision in this mess?"
Yes...Yes...Yes! It is the question I ask myself daily...How do I maintain my holy vision in all of this mess?!!
And the lesson that God seems to be prodding at my heart during this advent season is this-- that He gives us the holy moments not so that we can sit in them forever (that's what heaven is all about!), He gives us the holy moments so that they can ignite grace in the messy ones.
We must continue to make space for Christ in our inns this season...and as we make space our hearts will be filled...and once our hearts are filled we might walk into a great big mess of sorts, and at that moment you will have a choice...let the holy moments have meant nothing or let them mean everything.
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on
whom his favor rests."
(This is the second of four Christmas posts that will be posted each Sunday this month. Besides these Christmas posts I am taking a blogging break until the new year! Merry Christmas.)
Reflections on Christmas, Part 1
Why I'm Taking a Blogging Break