Joyful Preparation By Elizabeth Barton
Joyful Preparation By Elizabeth Barton

I want to share some wisdom with you that I discovered last year. How often I am unaware of my lack until someone else reveals wisdom that I do not have.

In December last year I was, as many of us are already, busily preparing for Christmas. My to do list was crammed full, buying presents, getting food, arranging times to see family and friends, getting the tree, decorating the house… went on and on.

Love it or loathe it, Christmas time is a lot of work and I was in full swing. Some of us enjoy the preparation, we thrive on the busyness and the planning, but for me, I realised that I felt overwhelmed. I did not feel the joyful expectation of the season, but instead the stress of going to Sainsbury’s for what felt like the 70th time because I kept forgetting gravy granules!

But it was into this manic phase that the wisdom came. I have a wonderful friend, Emma, who lives in an intentional Christian Community in Kent, and we speak on the phone weekly to catch up and encourage one another. During one of these conversations Emma spoke to me about making room in our hearts for the coming Christ.
I was surprised to hear her excitement and joy for Christmas, but these emotions were not brought about by the lights, songs or gatherings. No, this joy came from a place of preparation and waiting. Emma told me that during Advent she enjoys and spends her time preparing her heart for the baby Jesus. She focuses her thoughts on Him, on His willingness to come to the earth He created, vulnerable and obedient. She examines her heart and like the stable, makes room for the Messiah to come and dwell as He loves to do.

As for me, I am afraid to say, I was not even like the Inn keeper in the story, willing and able to offer the little room he had. No, my heart was so closed – like that of the lesser recorded doors upon which the parents of Jesus knocked, in which to find a place for the King of Kings to be born.

I felt like my heart was closed, there was no room, too much to do, too little time to do it in.

Emma also went on to tell me that during the meetings that the Community have during the Advent period, they leave space and time for each member to examine their own hearts and to approach one another to put right any sin that has been lurking in their hearts, their words or their relationships.

They actively remove this sin from their lives and help and support one another to do the same. They do this so that they are ready to receive Jesus in His imminent arrival.Upon hearing this Wisdom I discovered that I too desired and longed to not again miss the coming of Christ into the world, but instead to carefully and diligently make room. To declutter my heart so that the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ can enter in and be worshipped as I long to worship Him.I want this year to be different, I want my children to discover a different way, a way beyond the flashy exterior of Christmas. I want us to go deeper, to discover the depths of the love the Lord has for us and to receive the gift of Jesus, the gift which sustains me and which never leaves me lacking.