It seems we would have learned by now. One of the first obstacles that popped up when God decided to be revealed in human form was a space issue….a space issue.
There was no room for Jesus to be born. And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in the manger because there was no room for him in the inn. Luke 2:7
How can there be no room for a tiny newborn? Some scholars says this is properly translated as no guest room. Either way it was full too. Some argue the birth was actually in a cave like place with a hollowed out stone manger. Others say the birth was actually in the family room of a home with many women attending to Mary. Still, I would argue, a space issue is going on.
We make room for what we value.
I remember once when I served on a large church staff, some of us wanted to collect small travel sized toiletries for the homeless. I was told by the head of facilities at the time that there was no room for such a collection. I fought back reminding him that we had 9 acres of space on our campus. Really? No room for a tiny bars of soap and mouthwash? We make room for what we value.
I hear people all the time lamenting that they cannot engage in spiritual practices or be involved in the life of the church because they have no room in their schedule.
And what about the Christmas season? Is there something telling about our overfilled stomachs, calendars and credit cards that is reminiscent of right where we started, with a space issue? I still have a picture of one Christmas growing up where about ten people are in the room, a large room, each of us with a pile of presents in front of us, taller than we were. There is no space to walk or move, just this giant room filled with people and presents. You couldn’t fit a baby in there if you tried.
Why haven’t we learned?
What if you worked on a more room Christmas? A clergy friend of mine told me she was trying to make more space this Advent by taking a pause between what she thinks and what she says. I like that. Speaking space.
What can you downsize, simplify or cross off your list altogether to make room this year?
Maybe you will turn off the Christmas music every now and then for some silent nights or moments.
Maybe you will give away some toys, clothes, trinkets or decorations a create some space.
Maybe you will simplify a gift giving ritual that has morphed out of control.
Maybe you will forgo the Nutcracker, the holiday thing you could do or one Christmas party for an empty evening instead.
A couple of years ago I found myself at a holiday gathering with a house so decorated, music so loud and tables so laden with rich food that I could not breathe nor find a place to sit where there wasn’t a Santa stuffed pillow jingling underneath me. I made room by stepping outside, breathing in the cold night air and looking for a star. That was all I needed to make some space in my soul again.
How will you make room this year?
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. Check out her speaking events for 2020 at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/events. Registration is happening now.