Christmas Lights before Turkey?

Thanksgiving offers well needed time to spend on “home” work instead of “work” work; a few extra days to pull out Christmas decorations and dust off the cobwebs. Most don’t take kindly to Christmas lights until the turkey is gone, the pie plates are empty and the balloons have floated down the streets of New York. I am one of those people, yet when the business side of my brain slowly faded into slumber, the creative side took a deep breath, exhaling fresh ideas for the upcoming season.

A solitary live oak tree stands majestically in our field, towering to the sky, its massive branches stretching out, casting its cooling shade, as it has for hundreds of years. On one side, the branches part in angular fashion, providing the perfect frame for a Christmas Nativity scene. Pieced together barn wood and a few lights create silhouettes of Joseph, Mary and the manger.

Envisioning the scene and pondering additions led me to the realization that field grass and weeds had overgrown the area. As the lawnmower trimmed the area to a reasonable height, it struck me that I was literally “preparing the way for the Lord” and “ making room for the Christ child”. I felt a little jab in the ribs by God’s sense of humor, as there was more here than simply leveling the ground as to not interfere with the lighting. The parallels began to settle in as a sobering reminder of places in my heart that have remained untended, weeds taking root due to sheer apathy, or pulling one weed at a time as two more sprout behind me.

In the midst of this lesson, a song came to mind, written by Michael Peterson and recorded by John Berry in 2000, called “My Heart is Bethlehem. The premise is to make room for Jesus in my heart, a humble dwelling made worthy only by His grace.

In that tiny town, some two thousand years ago, there was no room at the inn, no “proper” place for a child to be born. God chose instead, to enter this world as a child, in the lowliest of places, a dark and dirty stable, surrounded by animals. Yet His presence made the place so revered that shepherds and wise men traveled to see this King of kings.

Admittedly, there are corners of my soul as dark and dirty as that stable.

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12 – NIV

Not only does God see what we try to hide in the darkness, he makes the dark places bright as day, so that we are not overtaken by the shadows of sin. Jesus entered this world in a dark and dirty space, certainly nothing worthy of a king. In the same way, He is willing to come into our hearts, even in the dustiest of corners and light up the entire space. I need to spend more time cutting the grass and pulling weeds to make a place for Him.

Christmas decorations celebrating the coming of Jesus, displayed before Thanksgiving? What greater thing is there to be grateful for?

Thankful for the Christ in Christmas
And Blessed in Great Measure

If you are making room for Jesus, let me know. I love a good story.
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