Some of us do a lot of preparing during the holidays. You’ve got family coming into town at the end of the week and you’re hosting, so you take off work to tidy up the house. You find out-of-sight homes for all the clutter that normally lays in plain sight; you put that enormous stack of papers in the bedroom; you stack a couple books you’ve never read on a corner table as decoration; you get on Pinterest and search “Christmas craft I can make in 5 minutes or less” so you have something cute to put on the mantel; you vacuum; you change the sheets on the guest beds… A lot of preparation goes into readying our homes to play host for the holidays. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, the Apostle Peter says that as you come to Jesus you are being built into a spiritual home. So, then, are you putting as much love and attention into preparing your spiritual house to host God as you put into preparing your homes to host family and friends this holiday season?
I try to prepare for Christ to be born into my life, but there’s so much mystery wrapped up in Jesus’ arrival on earth. It’s such an unfathomable gift that I sometimes wonder how I could ever be fully prepared. And this is where Jesus’ grace enters the Christmas story.
The world wasn’t ready for Jesus to come: King Herod tried to have him killed the moment he was born; the Pharisees and the Sadducees didn’t understand him; Jesus wasn’t even welcomed in his own hometown. The world was so unprepared for Jesus’ coming that the people’s response to his being here was “crucify him.” But to this world that wasn’t ready for him, Jesus said, “I’m coming whether you’re ready or not.” And then he broke into a world that so desperately needs him but can’t always recognize it. There’s so much grace in that.
The most remarkable part of the Christmas story—the part that overwhelms the heart—is that God chooses to break into the darkness of our lives and endure our struggles with us. And this coming, this in-breaking, has the power to reinvigorate life in such a way that our life in Christ can never be extinguished. John the evangelist says, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” As we prepare our hearts and our homes for Jesus’ birth, may we be open to Christ igniting a light in us that can never be put out. Happy Advent.