So, yesterday the temperature change happened quickly. The warmest part of the day was when I left the house heading for church. By the time we got done and met mom and dad at their house for lunch it was cold! As we were inside waiting for lunch to get ready, mom and dad’s cat, Miss Priss walked up to the glass door and looked at us. She’s an odd shaped cat that has the body of a football and the head of a pea. With the weather getting colder, Miss Priss has been trying to stuff her fat body into the covered manger area among all of the ceramic people that mom has set up outside on the porch. I looked away from Miss Priss for just a minute and the next thing I hear is my mom swinging the door open and chasing that cat out of her nativity scene. I couldn’t help but laugh because the only thing I could think of was a line from a song I used to sing as a kid, “No room, no room said the man in Bethlehem.”
Once I stopped laughing though, I realized there was a life lesson in there. During this holiday season there are nativities set up all over the place. Radio stations of all genres are playing Christmas music that clearly points to the Messiah’s birth. Families remember their roots and want to be back in church. Individuals who have never trusted Christ often get to know him through someone’s words, extended out to them in love. Charitable giving is done without a second thought. Holiday gatherings, gift exchanges, loving acts, warm wishes; all of these flow from person to person as we celebrate this joyous season. Then the New Year comes and we make promises to each other and ourselves. We say we will be better people, take better care ourselves through diet and exercise, or quit a bad habit that has plagued us for years. We will follow Jesus with more fervor or we will at least work on better spiritual habits. We are hopeful as the new year begins. We feel good and renewed.
And then life happens.
Somewhere in the daily routines of life we get sidetracked. We forget to be kind to others. We fail to think about Jesus and all that his birth meant to this world. We stop reaching out to others. We cease feeling hopeful. Instead of reaching out, we begin focusing in. Slowly the spirit of Christmas dies away and we are left with…life. Whether we mean to start chanting it or not, our mantra becomes, “No room. No room. No room for anyone or anything in my life but me.”
It doesn’t happen to everyone and if it does happen, it may come in small steps. I just want to challenge you to keep the spirit of Christ alive in you all year long, not just at Christmas. Helping others, extending love, and talking about Jesus should be an all year event, not just a Christmas tradition. Daily we should spread hope, love, joy, and peace to all we come in contact with. Instead of chasing others out of our lives and telling them, “No room,” we need to work on moving the ceramic figurines out of the way and inviting them into our lives. We need to be the place where others can find shelter from the storm. And when others come into our lives, we point them to the heart of it all: the baby in a manger that grew up sinless and perfect and became the sacrifice for our sins, redeeming us from hell so that we could walk in newness and freedom. Oh what grace he extends to us.