“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
Advent ends today, as does this series of daily reflections on Luke’s story of events surrounding the birth of Jesus. At the center of every story Luke tells and every character surrounding the birth is the figure of Jesus. Jesus anticipated by the prophets and John the baptizer, Jesus worshiped in the manger, Jesus eventually walking to Jerusalem and the cross. This Jesus is the baby that rocked the world.
But in order for this baby to rock the world, he needs to rock me and you. That is to say, my life needs to be confronted, disturbed, challenged and changed by the familiar Christmas story.
In these final days of Advent we’ve been looking at Mary and the way she yielded her self and her plans to the purposes of God. She allowed her life story to be re-defined by a larger story. God authors the tale of our life. We live as participants, not planners. Mary exemplifies this kind of humility before God.
St. Augustine said of Mary that she conceived Christ first in her heart before she conceived him in her womb.* There is much about Mary that we will never be able to imitate – but this we can do. In fact, this we must do or we will never be rocked, and neither will the world we inhabit.
We sing of such a reality each Christmas. The carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” includes a line that invites God to “cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”
So we conclude today with a practical question. How do we conceive Christ in our hearts? How is Jesus born in us so that we are rocked to the core and ready to rock the world?
The answer lies in a line from another much loved Christmas carol. We “prepare him room.” We make a space for Christ to take up residence within us. When we sing “let every heart prepare him room” we are implicitly acknowledging two things. One, our hearts are crowded, crowded with anxieties and dreams, resentments and yearnings. Second, we can do something to make room for Jesus.
Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to worship. In worship we can make room by clearing out the junk that is stored in our heart. The best practice in this regard is confession. Telling the truth, naming what it is that crowds our hearts and darkens our soul.
And then we bring order to what’s left as we give thanks to God and offer our praise – especially when we don’t feel very thankful or joyful.
Whatever this Christmas Eve holds for you, make time for worship. In doing so, you prepare room in your heart. You make it possible for Christ to be born in you. You become one through whom God can truly rock the world. If you are a reader in the Atlanta area you’re invited to join us at Peachtree Presbyterian for one of our Christmas Eve services (click here for service times).
Jesus is ready to take up residence in your heart. Prepare him room this Christmas. Invite him in. And may the peace and joy of the savior’s birth be real to you today.
Lord Jesus, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. As you dwell in us, use us in your saving work, announcing good news to any and all who need to hear it. Amen.
*(Cited in Charles Talbert, Reading Luke, page 25).