It's Christmas and I want all the bells and whistles of my youth, give me a beautiful building with beautiful decorations and all the pageantry of the season! I want the grateful familiarity of long-held traditions. I miss it all.
But Jesus...I think of His own birth.
He didn't even get an inn, much less the high ceilings of a palace. No, he was born in a rough cave hewn in the rock, with animals all around him and dung below. He was lain in a feeding trough, for goodness sake, and I want pews and candles and long robes?
I think of this as I sit in our home, surrounded by a church family far more gracious than I could ever deserve. Stained carpets below us, dust on the shelves, dirty baseboards. (Do people look at baseboards? Please don't look at my baseboards.) I did my best but it's still merely our humble home and I am blessed to have it filled with those dear to us. We sing of holy nights and silent nights and I remember holy nights of my own. This, this is good. It's not the service of my youth but I need to stop longing, trying to recreate, wanting something more than what I have. This might look more like a stable than a palace but it is Good.
Because all of it, wherever we are, whatever it looks like, it's always the heart that matters most. Maybe this year my heart needs fewer steeples, less liturgy, and different traditions, because all of those things are fine but why do I desire them so strongly? What is it that I'm really searching for here?
I'm not sure. But I do know that when Love came down, He chose the stable over the palace. As I shed palaces of my own, I see more clearly than ever that Love remains, always the greatest gift of all. The stable may not look like much on the outside, but that love fills the inside with beauty.
Maybe these year I need something a little quieter, a little more humble, a little more intimate and vulnerable.
Maybe this year I need a stable.
Linking up with the Born in our Darkness Advent syncroblog