Making Space for God
Last week’s lectionary Psalm was Psalm 132. I prayed it for a couple days assuming that it was a song of praise about King David that didn’t have much to say to me. But then writer in The Upper Room Disciplines applied David’s desire to build a house for God to our own lives.
God needs space. If we don’t make space for God, other things will crowd in…We have a choice. We can work to carve out space for the will and way of God, that way of love, justice, and reconciliation, or we can watch the world fill it with fear, frustration, despair and distrust.
The truth of the words hit home!
One of the challenges of our media-saturated, 24-hour-cable-connected, Facebook-Twitter-addicted culture is the constant pressure of noisy voices and chaotic events to crowd their way into every inch of space within and around us. If we don’t intentionally make space for God, our minds, hearts and lives will be crowded by other, lesser things.
There’s nothing new about this. St. Augustine (354-430 AD) prayed,
“Narrow is the mansion f my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within it which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it.”
We Get to Choose!
We can make space for God. In a culture infected with fear, bigotry, dishonesty and old fashioned meanness, we can make space for “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) In a time when the air waves are cluttered with Twitter-chatter and politically-polarizing debate, we can choose what fills our minds. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Come, Lord Jesus!
And so, we come to Advent, the season of watching, waiting and hoping for the coming of Christ. We will hear the story again of the peculiar way Christ came into a world where the only place he could find to be born was a stable. And we look forward to his final coming when the whole creation will be filled with his glory.
Between Christ’s coming in the past and his coming at the end of time, Advent invites us to make space for Christ to be born anew in our lives and in our world right now.
To that end, a few time-tested, practical recommendations.
- Make space for silence. Carve out a few moments each day to turn off the noise and be silent. Remember:
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human heart the blessings of his Heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, yet in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.
- Make space for scripture. Put aside the rest of the news and read again the great good news of life, love and peace. Listen for the angels: “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people.” (Luke 2:10)
- Make space for music. Forget “Susie Snowflake” and fill you home and car with the great carols and hymns that celebrate the coming of Christ. If you’re in Orlando, join us for “First United Christmas” on December 17 at 7:00 PM.
- Make space for worship. The wonder and mystery of Christmas leads us to the unique power and presence of God in corporate worship. Our theme at First United Methodist Church is “Come Home for Christmas.” Our prayer is that the “longing for home” that is deep within our human hearts will lead us to the place G.K. Chesterton described in his poem, The House of Christmas.
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
May each of us in our own way make space for Christ to be born again in us this Christmas.
Grace and peace,