Generally Speaking: No room at Christmas time

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in. (from O Little Town of Bethlehem—Brooks)

 

An old friend recently handed me an unfamiliar Christian women’s publication and pointed out one particular article.

The title was “Filling our Spiritual Space,” and it answered the question, “Beyond consumerism and busyness, how can we fill our lives with God’s grace?”

The writer says that Christians, for the most part, buy the books and attend the workshops in an effort to discover a sense of serenity in the middle of the every day, but we fail miserably reaching for formulas to stop the run-away train that is life in the here and now. “Amen, Sister,” I thought. I have re-read the writer’s thoughts about 10 times. I wish I could take a syringe and inject her every word into my veins!

Help!

And never more than at Christmas do I want to turn off the world, calm the voices of “hurry.”

I am weary of shopping for gifts for people who already have crowded closets, full pantries, and enjoy abundant blessings that only those of us in the “first world” consider necessities.

I am tempted to scream, “Stop!”

Do I sound like Ebenezer Scrooge? I guess I do. I guess I am Ebenezer. I am old. Forgive me.

And so, today, I have had a true “Mary” day.

I sat in my comfortable home office and was very, very quiet. Remember those sisters Mary and Martha? I admit I am a recovering Martha.

I imagine her—slaving over the details, demanding her little sister’s compliance in the kitchen.

Mary, on the other hand, would not be the friend you wanted as your co-chairman on any committee even if her only duty was making slice-and-bake cookies for 4-year-olds.

She gets distracted by eternity.

Christmas is a true Mary and Martha occasion, and the way we “do” Christmas these days can easily fill up all the space of life—so much so that we miss completely that “one needful thing,” for which Jesus commended Mary.

It was all about Him, and He is the One Person in all of time and space who has the right to make it all about Him.

The trouble is, He rarely forces His way in.

Only a well guarded spiritual space is ready to receive Him.

Martha knows, too, everything that Mary knows.

However, she intends to have her quiet moments with the Lord when everything is done. And her “to do” list is endless.

She’s making her list and checking it…constantly…and there is no peace in her heart or in her home.

As I contemplated the evasive “space and time” issue, I also thought about the strange connection with the Christmas Story itself and the fact that there was simply no room in the inn by the time Joseph and Mary arrived that night.

Joseph could not exactly call ahead to reserve a room and put it on his American Express card.

The treacherous 80 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem was a 10 day journey in those days.

And then to arrive bone tired and in the throes of labor only to discover there was no available hotel room anywhere. No room.

The theme echoes through the ages. He’s used to being ignored. Do you agree?

It has become increasingly difficult, as well as politically incorrect, to fit Jesus into the “holiday season” extravaganza.

Is it possible to rediscover the “one needful thing?” Jesus told the contentious Martha that Mary’s one needful thing “would not be taken from her.”

You mean it is a gift that lasts, one that will never break, fade, disappear, or wear out?

When Martha collapsed on the sofa from sheer exhaustion at the end of her very successful dinner party, Mary still had the treasure of her time with Jesus.

And that treasure would be smack dab in the middle of her heart the next day and the day after that and on and on.

So, here’s Christmas…simplified.

God loved.

God put on skin and came to visit as the most expensive and extravagant Gift ever given.

He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a crude feeding trough.

Why did God do it just that way? Maybe so that we never quite get over the fact that God would enter the world in such an unexpected way.

If we search for the “one needful thing” it will still fill us with wonder and amazement that He was willing to do so at all.

 

 

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