During Advent & Christmas, we are featuring devotionals written by clergy of the Greater NJ Annual Conference of the UMC.
1In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Every year I dread the question that swirls around my family – “What are your plans for Christmas?” See, as a clergy person I’m often working until the wee hours of Christmas morning, and then wrapping presents, eating an actual meal, and trying to come down from the chaos that is often Christmas Eve. Some years, when Christmas falls on a Sunday, I’m preparing for the next morning in the midst of all of that. This year, with Christmas on a Saturday, I’ll need to prep for Sunday morning with less recovery time than I’m used to. As a bonus parent to my husband’s six year old, there’s also back and forth movement with pick up and drop off, as a daughter-in-law there are in-laws and their plans to contend with, navigating my own family and extended family’s expectations often sends my head spinning.
There are some years when I spend more time in a car going here and there than I do actually with the people I love – and that chaos often means that there’s little room to just be… and unfortunately that also means that sometimes, even as a clergy person, there’s little room for Jesus in my heart on Christmas.
I want to believe that I’m not the only one who lets the business and chaos of the season overshadow the reason for the season. But this year, I am endeavoring to make sure that there is room at the inn for Jesus – that somewhere
deep inside of all of the stuff of this holiday, Jesus will have room, and not just room but a place at the center of all that I do.
Consider this me giving you permission to only do the life giving things today – only do the things that will bring you closer to Jesus. You are no longer obligated to do things just because you have to, but instead structure time to do the things that draw out love, peace, hope and joy. To make room at the inn of your heart and mind and soul for the one who is and was and is to come.
Friends today is the most joyous day – for unto us a Savior is born, a Son is given, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. God has become human so that we might ﬁnd salvation, life and love. May we today, and every day, ﬁnd the space to give room to Jesus and all that Jesus brings to us.
By the Rev. Gabrielle Corbett
For Pondering & Prayer
Prayer: Today, God, in the midst of all the busyness of family and friends, of competing expectations for what I should or shouldn’t do, grant me moments of peace where I can welcome your Son once more into my life. Where it feels like there is no room, help me to make some. In the name of the Child of Bethlehem, amen.