I can’t think of very many things I love more than Christmas time. The twinkle lights, the music, the tree, the baking, it’s just magical.
It is a season of celebration. Of anticipation.
It’s the anticipation of the birth of our Savior, and the beginning of the fulfillment of every promise God made and prophecy spoken in scripture.
This year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving my family picked up our Christmas tree that we ordered from Young Life. It was too big to fit in our foyer, so we decided that it would go in our living room. In order for this to work, we had to do some rearranging.
And you know what? In making room for our tree (which, by the way, is glorious), I was reminded of how, as followers of Jesus, we must do the same. We need to make room in our hearts for Christmas.
Because when we are getting after the Good Life, the other junk simply has to go. Our priorities change. And this requires us to do some rearranging.
Though it feels risky to get rid of the junk and move things around, we must hold fast to this promise: Our empty spaces make way for Him to give us more of Himself.
He blesses us with Himself. He became the Blessing. The Giver of life and breath and all things good and perfect became the Gift. The Greatest Gift.
And really, that’s what Christmas, what Advent, is all about. It’s the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, what is lost can always be found, because He came for us and made a way.
Immanuel. God with us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We cannot allow ourselves to grow immune to the beauty of this message.
Love incarnate came down. for you. and me. And He is coming. He shows up and then keeps showing up. The Manger never stops saving us. That’s the best news I could possibly imagine.
I think about how before Jesus was born, people were anticipating a strong and mighty King, one who would fiercely wipe out all oppression and injustice, judge the world in righteousness, deliver His people and reign forevermore.
Imagine their surprise, or perhaps even confusion, when this baby was born in the lowliest of ways. He grew up to be a friend of sinners, meek and humble, despised and rejected by mankind.
And I am reminded that often what God delivers is not quite what we expect, but it will always surpass every expectation that we could possibly have.
What we think we need, isn’t often what we actually really need. Because He truly knows what we need, He will always graciously provide accordingly.
His ways are so much higher than our ways.
And ultimately, He knows that more than anything else, we need Him. We are in desperate need of a Savior, so rather than giving us the earthly king that would save us from a human lifespan of bondage, He sent us a Savior who made a way for us to have an eternity free of it.
The God who put on skin and came down for us, humbling Himself and being born of a virgin into a manger, all so that He could die for us on the cross and rise victoriously over sin and death. It’s why He came.
The manger and the cross. The cross and the manger.
The word “manger” actually comes from the Latin word munducare, which means “to eat.” A manger is a wooden or stone feeding trough that holds hay for farm animals like cattle, horses, and donkeys. Animals would go to the manger for physical food.
And this season, He is beckoning us to come to the manger, in the little town of Bethlehem, also known as the House of Bread, to come and feast on the Bread of Life, Jesus, as our spiritual food. He says,
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
The fascinating thing is, the manger in which the baby Jesus was laid was actually made of stone. He was wrapped in swaddling cloth and placed in a (stone) manger. And after His death, He was wrapped is cloth and placed inside of a (stone) tomb. You see, even in the humiliation of His birth – the Lord was already planning the victory of His death and resurrection.
And it is because of His death and resurrection that we know Him to truly be who He says He is. We can take Him up on His Word. Has He not proven Himself trustworthy by going to impossible lengths – suffering immensely, dying, and rising again – to win our hearts?
We can prepare Him room, because He is worth it. In fact, He is the only One who is.
Later in his life, I bet the Innkeeper wished he’d made more room than he thought he had for Jesus. Me too.
Because the heart that makes time and space and room for Him to come will be a glorious place.
Here’s to making room for Him in our hearts. There really is nothing better.