Friday, December 11, 2009

Make Room for Christ at Christmas - or - Why Santa Should Be Sent to the Dog Kennel

Yesterday, I posted one of my short stories called No Room. Although I’m pretty sure the historical details aren’t entirely correct, I wrote it that way because I wanted to write a story about someone who finds it hard to make room for Christ at Christmas.

In Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago, it was hard to find a place for the Baby Jesus to be born. In the 21st Century, we are still finding it hard to make room for Jesus in our lives.

Ironically, one of the hardest times to make room for Jesus is at Christmas, the time when we should most be thinking of him. Instead of preparing a room and welcoming him as an honored guest, we treat him as an inconvenience – and one we don’t have time for right now.

Everybody is so busy at Christmas. There’s the Christmas cards to be sent, the Christmas shopping to be done, the Christmas decorations to be put up, the Christmas lunch to be prepared, the Christmas presents to be wrapped.

Sometimes we’re so busy, we can’t even keep the Christ in the Christmas things we are doing. That’s Xmas cards, Xmas shopping, Xmas decorations, Xmas lunch and Xmas presents. I guess ‘X’ is less time-consuming than Christ.

Well we have to save time somewhere and nothing else can go, can it? If we didn’t send out Christmas cards, people would think we didn’t care about Christmas. If we didn’t put up an amazing outdoor Christmas light display, we wouldn’t be being very festive. To tell people we don’t want to exchange gifts would show a distinct lack of Christmas spirit. And perhaps a cooking a smaller lunch (with say enough food for the afternoon, not for the week) is possible, but it’s Christmas and you need to celebrate at Christmas time.

We’ll get rid of Christ easily enough, with the excuse that there’s not enough time for him. But there’s no way we’ll get rid of anything else that is related to the season.

Now to be fair, many people will fit in a church service somewhere between opening presents and eating lunch. They might even make room for a Christmas carol or two. (Although it is hard to find time to sing the carols about Jesus, when there’s so many songs about Santa to be sung.)

But we’re hardly treating his as an honoured guest. In Bethlehem, there was no room for Jesus in the inn, but they found a space for him in a manger, with the animals. Nowadays, there’s no room for Jesus at Christmas, except for a small parcel of time between 10 am and 11 am on Christmas morning.

And yet nobody seems to have a problem making room for Santa.

The next time you see a nativity scene, take a good look at it. (Presuming you do see a nativity scene. They’re becoming somewhat endangered lately. Better make it a good, long look. It may be the last time you ever see one.)

Anyway, take a good, long look and ask yourself where Jesus is placed during your Christmas time. Is he squeezed in between the donkey and cow (or Santa and presents), placed in a manger because that’s the only place he will fit, without it inconveniencing you? Or he is given the best room and welcomed as an honoured guest?

And may I suggest, if you are finding it difficult to make room for Jesus this Christmas, take Santa out of the best guest room and make him sleep with the animals instead. Relegate him to the dog kennel. You have a more important guest coming you need to make room for.

We can all make room for Jesus. But it may mean realising that some things are just not that important.

Image Details: Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Life of Christ, Nativity, Birth of Jesus, Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337). Taken from Wikimedia Commons. Image is in the public domain.

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