How are your preparations for Christmas going? December is well and truly here and Christmas will be upon us before we know it. There is often far too much to do in the run up to the festive season. It may be known as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ but it can easily be the busiest time of the year too! There are presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare, decorations to put up, and guests to prepare for.
Christmas is often a time for having guests to come and stay. Perhaps you have family descending upon you on Christmas Eve, or friends coming to stay for a festive celebration. Or maybe you are going to be a guest in someone else’s house for the Christmas season. It can be hard work getting ready for guests to arrive and we may be concerned not to be a burden to others if we are guests ourselves.
Receiving guests is an important theme of the Christmas story. One of the most famous Bible passages, read at many carol services, is the opening passage of John’s gospel. There we are told that ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). God comes to us in human form in the person of Jesus. He comes to build his home among us ordinary people. He enters our world and enters our home. Yet, wonderfully, he comes not to be a burden to us, but to lift the burdens from our shoulders.
One of the ironies of the Christmas story, then, is that Jesus finds no home for him to be born into! Enacted in many school nativity plays, Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem find ‘no room in the inn’. God comes to visit us, and the only place he finds is an animal’s feeding trough, full of rough straw. God steps down into our world but finds little welcome and warmth to receive him.
I wonder if that is too often mirrored in our Christmas celebrations as well? I know that I can be easily consumed with busyness and preparations I forget to welcome the very person who we are celebrating into the event! We can be overtaken with food, presents, guests, parties that Jesus finds no room in our lives and homes at Christmas once again.
At Christmas we remember that God comes to us in Jesus. This Christmas, will Jesus find a welcome in our homes and hearts? I pray that we will enjoy the celebrations and festivities this year, and that we will also know the presence of the most wonderful guest of all – Jesus Christ. May he find a welcome and a home in our lives this Christmas and beyond.