Monday, November 28, 2011

Preparing Room

The season of advent is upon us.  Time, I suppose, for the obligatory blog post on doing Christmas the "right" way, whatever that is.  Less stuff, more meaning, less shopping, more praying?  I'm not sure.

Truth be told, it's really hard to know how to make Jesus' Christmas surpass the grandeur of Santa Claus--especially with small children.  Try as I might, Molly's favorite part of Christmas is the presents, even though she knows all about Jesus and his birthday.  What is a parent to do, really?  There's a big part of me that loves the gift giving (and receiving) part, too...

And so I struggle to figure out what this "real meaning" is that I am trying to prepare for.  Probably not the most p.c. thing to own up to, but it's true.

This morning, while listening to Christmas music, I was floored by a line from Joy to the World: "Let every heart prepare ye room."

I'm not sure why it struck me.  Why it kept circling through my mind as the rest of the song played.  Why it kept coming back as I did other things.  Why it's still stuck there, hanging on.  Let every heart prepare ye room.

Still unsure why this line clung to me as it did, I began to reflect on what it might mean to prepare room for Jesus, the baby King, the one who would save.  The only frame of reference I have for this is preparing for the birth of my own babies.  Thinking back to those times, I recall the planning, the careful shopping and selecting and readying that took place to make their rooms ready for them to come home.  Especially with Molly, the firstborn, I chose all of the things--linens, furniture, decorations--with such care.  We set things up so proudly, washed and folded things, made her some special things and placed them in the room even before she was born.

Why do we feel compelled to do this?  Why has readying a nursery become such an important part of having a new baby?  Surely, it's not because we think the baby cares about all of these things, is it?  We don't believe that the baby, upon seeing the wrong quilt, or upon realizing that the changing table is a hand-me-down, will become indignant and refuse to remain in our family, do we?  Of course not.  Setting up the nursery with care is simply a way that we communicate to the baby, to ourselves, and to the rest of the world that we are making room.  A new one is coming into our world, and we will stop everything to make a place where this new one can live and grow and make their home.  Making room shows that we are eager, we are expectant, and we realize that once the baby arrives, we will be ready and available for life to be different.

Perhaps it's a helpful metaphor for the advent season, especially in light of the fact that the One we await came as a baby.  So what might it look like to make room this season?  How are we preparing?  Are we choosing carefully the things that we are spending our time on this season?  Are we aware that the things we are preparing--the actual, physical things--aren't the important part, but what is important is that these physical things point to a heart that is eager, excited, expecting to stop everything and make room once the awaited one arrives?

The problem with the advent season, in my opinion, is that it is just the beginning, yet it gets all of the pomp.  It is like celebrating a wedding without realizing that the marriage itself is the gift.  Or having a baby shower and not knowing that the raising of the child is the fun part.  Advent is the preparation.  Advent is the beginning, the entrance, the starting gun.  It is loud and shiny and exciting, and Santa and Rudolph join in, and there is hot chocolate and ice skating.  It is all so much darn fun.

But what comes after--when the King has come--that's the point.  That's what we wait for.  Life after the Christmas tree has come down, after the New Year has rung, that's what all of this is for.  That is also the point at which we find out if we have done a good job at making room.  If life is different, if we have received Christ who has come, if we are fundamentally changed, if our priorities have shifted come December 26th....that's how we know.  That's how we know if we've truly made room.  That's how we know that the baby has arrived.

How are you making room this season?


ells said... this is the link to my post at Ann...other one lead to a different post..)

great post...great questions you raise...I have traveled down many paths asking these questions...God is faithful to meet us at every turn...

Kristin said...

Thanks, ells! I appreciated your post as well. Great, wise advice. Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful, peace-full Christmas!