EPISODE #3: Prepare Him Room—Today’s passage from Matthew 1:22-25 is about how Joseph and Mary prepared to welcome Jesus as their son, which reminds me of one of my favorite lines from “Joy to the World”: Let every heart prepare him room. Preparing room means clearing out space. Cleaning up. Moving the detritus into the basement. How do I prepare room for Jesus on a spiritual level?
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
– Matthew 1:22-25
Prepare Him Room
It’s one of my favorite lines from “Joy to the World”: Let every heart prepare him room. This passage from Matthew is about the preparations Joseph and Mary did in order to welcome Jesus as their son. The preparations God had to do, waiting until exactly the right time, and then sending multiple angels to reassure the various players that they really were invited into a cosmic plan for saving the whole world by welcoming a baby boy. There was pretty deep emotional and spiritual preparation going on for Mary and Joseph.
When I move forward in time by 2,000 years to my own preparations, it isn’t quite the same. Preparing room means clearing out space. Cleaning up. Moving the unnecessary detritus into the basement or garage or taking it to the dump. I can imagine preparing room for Jesus on a spiritual level. It would mean confession. It would mean taking an emotional inventory. It would mean paying attention to all the junk in my heart and getting rid of it.
A Crowded Heart
But I am not ready for that type of work right now. My heart is crowded with the regular preparations for Christmas—writing a letter and sending out cards, decorating the tree and making cookies, buying presents, wrapping presents, buying more presents… There are parties and holiday concerts and Advent calendars and peppermint drops and “Can I hab anodah piece a candy?” from Marilee, at 6:30 a.m.
And my heart is crowded with discontent. We have had two snow days and two delayed openings and a weekend snowstorm already this winter. We have had two kids who stayed home from school sick, on different days.
So this morning, with William making a design out of wooden blocks on the floor and Marilee eating gingerbread beside me (yes, at 6:20, before the candy question), I pulled out my journal and Bible and I wrote, “All of the preparations for Christmas are making it very difficult for me to prepare room for Jesus.“
I prayed that God would help me. Help my grumpy spirit. Help me trust that even though the presents aren’t all wrapped and even though I haven’t written the blog posts I had planned and even though I don’t have all the addresses for the Christmas cards and even though I have eaten and drunk more than I intended throughout this season and even though I have only vaguely paid attention to Advent so far—help me to trust that you are present. That you are God-with-us. Immanuel.
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