Advent has begun and during this season, all the familiar figures of yuletide make their annual appearance on to centre stage – Santa, Rudolf, Dad’s credit card and oh yea – Jesus.
Over the years the characters in the Christmas story have become clearly defined for us. The issues all seem so clear cut – Herod was a villain, the wise men were noble men of knowledge. The shepherds were heroes and the Innkeeper – well, the poor innkeeper has gone down as one of the heels in the story. In our minds eye, we envision him as a crotchety old man with a night cap on his head sticking his head out a second story window and tersely shouting: Take the stable and leave me alone. The archetype Ebenezer Scrooge.
But you know something, this simple little statement about there being no room in the Inn becomes a symbol for Luke. As he writes his gospel, it almost becomes a theme. Luke takes this one line, “There is no room in the inn,” and shows us how this phrase was recurrent throughout Jesus’ ministry. The question that Luke leaves for us is–will there ever be any room for him?
In Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago, it was hard to find a place for the Baby Jesus to be born. In the 21st Century, we are still finding it hard to make room for Jesus in our lives.
Ironically, one of the hardest times to make room for Jesus is at Christmas, the time when we should most be thinking of him. Instead of preparing a room and welcoming him as an honored guest, we treat him as an inconvenience – and one we don’t have time for right now.
Everybody is so busy at Christmas. There’s the Christmas cards to be sent, the Christmas shopping to be done, the Christmas decorations to be put up, the Christmas lunch to be prepared, the Christmas presents to be wrapped.
Sometimes we’re so busy, we can’t even keep the Christ in the Christmas things we are doing. That’s Xmas cards, Xmas shopping, Xmas decorations, Xmas lunch and Xmas presents. I guess ‘X’ is less time-consuming than Christ.
Well we have to save time somewhere and nothing else can go, can it? If we didn’t send out Christmas cards, people would think we didn’t care about Christmas. If we didn’t put up an amazing outdoor Christmas light display, we wouldn’t be being very festive. To tell people we don’t want to exchange gifts would show a distinct lack of Christmas spirit. And perhaps a cooking a smaller lunch (with say enough food for the afternoon, not for the week) is possible, but it’s Christmas and you need to celebrate at Christmas time.
We’ll get rid of Christ easily enough, with the excuse that there’s not enough time for him. But there’s no way we’ll get rid of anything else that is related to the season.
Now to be fair, many people will fit in a church service somewhere between opening presents and eating lunch. They might even make room for a Christmas carol or two. (Although it is hard to find time to sing the carols about Jesus, when there’s so many songs about Santa to be sung.)
But we’re hardly treating his as an honoured guest. In Bethlehem, there was no room for Jesus inthe inn, but they found a space for him in a manger, with theanimals. Nowadays, there’s no room for Jesus at Christmas, except for a small parcel of time between 10 am and 11 am on Christmas morning.
And yet nobody seems to have a problem making room for Santa. Ironically, Santa Claus (or should we say, St. Nicholas of Myra) himself was a Christian, and his noble attributes of love and generosity which we imitate at Christmas time were built on the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, whom we’ve grown to largely ignore many a time.
So the next time you see a nativity scene, take a good look at it. That is presuming you do see a nativity scene – they’re becoming somewhat endangered lately. Better make it a good, long look – if militant atheists, secular culture and politically correct politicians have their way, we could be headed for a much more sterile, religion-neutral ‘holiday season’ which could mean this would one of the last times we’ll ever see one.)
Anyway, take a good, long look and ask yourself where Jesus is placed during your Christmas time. Is he squeezed in between the donkey and the cow (or Santa and presents), placed in a manger because that’s the only place he will fit, without it inconveniencing you? Or he is given the best room and welcomed as an honoured guest? I’m not speaking in strictly literal terms – but think about it, in deeper terms. Where has Jesus been placed in your life in general, especially in your list of priorities during this Advent season? Have you any room for him at the centre of your life, where He wishes to guide you from? Or, is it the bright lights, super savings and the ‘Christmas culture’ of materialism that we have grown accustomed to all that fills our lives at this time? Is their a ‘No Vacancy’ sign for Christ at the door to our hearts and to our lives?
If you are finding it difficult to make room for Jesus this Christmas, You have a more important guest coming you need to make room for. I suggest we re-evaluate what we hold to be of most profound significance and eternal importance this Christmas. Let us not forget the miracle that happened 2,000 years ago. Just think, ponder and reflect on what happened – God; Eternal, creator of everything single thing we see and understand and of all that we are yet to see and understand. Perfect, omnipotent, so far beyond the most amazing thought of beauty, supremacy and power we could ever fathom and then some – belittling Himself, reducing Himself and coming down so close to nothingness, so that He can be among us, to walk with us, to teach us personally, and ultimately, to die that we whom He created, despite all our flaws and petty wars – could attain a share of His reward.
How often do we stop and think about this? More importantly – how often do we stop and appreciate this?
This Christmas, remember what happened all those years ago. Jesus came into this world so we could have so much more than just a holiday season, a few days off work and beers on the deck over the BBQ. These things are good but they aren’t the end-all and there is so much more depth to our existence than just the immediate pleasantries that we can amuse ourselves with. There are the deeper questions to our existence and purpose, to which Christ Himself answered. These are the answers which we rediscover and appreciate ever more each Christmas. This is why we cannot let our rampant consumer culture and addiction to entertainment and pleasure obscure the miracle of Christmas. The birth of Christ is the core of what we as Christians should meditate, pray and reflect on in the coming weeks Check out this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IN0W3gjnNE&feature=youtu.be
This Christmas – remember the Reason for the Season.
Do you have a vacancy for Christ this Christmas?
Merry Christmas to you all – and may the Lord be with you always.