Monday, December 01, 2003

Newsletter: Prepare Him Room

Almost a decade ago, I spent two years teaching in the Mississippi Delta with an organization called Teach for America. Since then, the organization has attempted to stay in contact with me and other alumni. Right around this time of year, TFA, for example, sends its participants Christmas cards. Well, they aren’t really Christmas cards. They are “Winter Holidays” cards.

The competition this time of year is fierce. There is Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and even Winter Solstice. In honor of this multiplicity, Teach for America tries to be inclusive. While living and teaching in the Delta, I attended “Winter Holidays” parties sponsored by Teach for America. As TFA teachers sat around the “Winter Holidays” tree, we would give out “Winter Holidays” presents. Unfortunately, being so inclusive seemed to crowd out the Christ child.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

Actually, I shouldn’t criticize Teach for America’s holiday greetings. They merely acknowledge the reality of living in this world. Whether competing with saccharine sentiments, rampant consumerism, or Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, we usually find ways to crowd out the Christ child. However, I don’t pretend that Christmas in the past has been any different. There has been no glorious time when men were men, and Christmas was celebrated correctly. Often the very things that concern us most figure least in God’s economy. God has always played by a different set of rules.

“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)

One of the most radical things that we can do this Christmas season is heed the words of the hymn - “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Instead of crowding out the Christ child, we should let Him enter our hearts. Let that same Jesus increase in wisdom and stature in our lives. Let Jesus be Lord.

Merry Christmas.