“People Look East”
United Methodist Hymnal – #202
Make your house fair as you are able,
trim the tree and set the table.
Our Senior Pastor, Jane Tews, once confided to me, “there are only so many ways to say, ’He is Born’” This was obviously as she prepared for her Christmas (Eve) message. She understood that people are most comfortable with the much beloved story of Angels, Shepherds, Wise Men, the Star etc. But to stand before a congregation, telling the same story over and over can inspire someone to find new and meaningful ways to connect that miraculous birth to who we are, and how we live in this modern day. Still, there are some images, or metaphors, that just won’t go away. One of them concerns the preparation of one’s house for the coming of the Christ Child. A medieval poem tells of two kings. If the King of the land was coming to visit, the preparations would be all encompassing. Floor to ceiling, chairs, table, food, everything that would make one a great host would be attended to. Yet, at the coming of the baby in Bethlehem, there was not even a welcoming place for him to be born, and this was the King of Kings, the Savior of the world! How did we get so messed up? And what can we do now? Surely we understand that the Advent season is a time of preparation. So what preparations can we make for our guest? Far more than setting the table or sweeping the floor. I would propose that this season we mindfully focus our preparations on our hearts, opening fully to our families, friends, and those we have yet to meet.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God,
the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
ISAIAH 40: 3-4
Gracious and loving God, we were so very lax in welcoming your Son so many years ago. Fill our hearts now with radical hospitality. May we fling open the doors of our hearts this Advent season, welcoming not only the Christ Child, but offering a welcoming embrace, both literally and figuratively, to our loved ones as well as those most in need of our love and resources. Amen.
~Rev. L. Michael Kelley