Prepare Him Room – by Pastor Chandler
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7).
Okay, it’s not quite December. Technically speaking, or should I say liturgically speaking, the first Sunday of Advent is not until next week. Yet, here you are reading the opening verses of Luke while Pastor Chandler talks about Christmas and the leftover turkey is still waiting to be consumed in the fridge. But, if I am being totally open and transparent with you, I love the Christmas season! I just can’t wait for December to talk about it. I made my poor wife put up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving morning. It’s okay to laugh. Really, my love for the Christmas season was hammered into me from childhood by my mother. I blame her and I kid you not, she put her Christmas tree up November 12th.
As the Christmas season approaches this year, I wanted to pause and challenge each of us to consider, “Is there room for Christ in this holiday season?”
Let’s key in on the very last phrase of verse seven. The decree for a registration went out in Syria. As people returned to their homelands, Bethlehem, this relatively small town only a handful of miles from Jerusalem was packed and overcrowded. The city was filled to the brim so much so that there was no room left for Mary and Joseph to have their baby. They were left to the cattle’s dwelling place and given a manger as a bed.
The text is making a great comparison between Caesar Augustus and Jesus. The Emperor of Rome ruled from the luxury of a palace. His birthday was celebrated by choirs in imperial temples. Caesar Augustus was praised as the Emperor who brought about peace throughout the whole Roman Empire (Pax Romana). He was hailed as the savior and lord of Rome and was constantly praised by world powers.
By contrast, Jesus was given a bed fit for animals, praised by lowly shepherds, and ignored by the world even though, as the Savior and Lord of the universe, he was bringing the eternal peace of God.
So, is there room for the King of kings in our hearts this year? Or are we focused on some worldly god? Are we focused on the new box office hits entering the theaters in December (this is especially pointed at me since The Last Jedi comes out soon)? Are we focused on our traditions or holiday agendas? Are we praising gifts given by human hands?
Let us make room in the inn of our hearts this year. Focus on Jesus Christ, praise the true gift giver, and be captivated by the wonderful truth that God became a man and dwelt among us.
Sovereign Grace Music has a song that captures the essence of what I have been considering:
Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem
Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room in the inn
Through the cradle, cross, and grave
See the love of God displayed
Now He’s risen and He reigns
Praise the Name above all names!
To help each of us focus on Christ this holiday season, we have made available a reading/devotional booklet that will offer daily Bible readings and thought-provoking questions for discussion. The booklet will help us, as a church, turn our attention to Christ. These readings will also bolster the three Sunday evening Christmas services this December 10th, 17th, and 24th.
You can get a physical copy of the reading plan today on the entry table or download a colorful and wonderfully designed digital eBook on the New Life website today (I highly recommend downloading the eBook).
Let me be the first to say, Merry Christmas.