Prepare Him Room

Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, 1584-1644), The Walters Art Museum

Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, 1584-1644), The Walters Art Museum

Tomorrow is Christmas. It is also my daughter's second birthday, which feels a little unbelievable.

I'm taken back today to my thoughts and feelings before she was born. My thoughts naturally turned toward Mary in that Advent season two years ago. I first shared this on Christie Purifoy's wonderful blog for her Advent series. And I wrote about what it meant for me to do what that joyous old carol celebrates: to prepare Him room. 

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Joy to the World! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her king; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing…”

The song is so familiar that I barely notice the lyrics. I stream it from iTunes while making dinner. But suddenly these words cause me to pause:

Let every heart prepare him room.

This December I am great with child.

My belly is swollen with a child that thumps and kicks and pulsates life. Three weeks out from the due date we are preparing room. The crib is set up; the clothes are washed and stacked in neat rows in a freshly painted white dresser. I’ve been here before. The preparing and waiting. The waiting and preparing.

During this season of advent and pregnancy my thoughts turn to Mary. What was her waiting and preparing like? She rode the back of a donkey the last days of her gestation, uncomfortable, with no hotel room awaiting her with clean sheets and a hot shower at the end of the journey. God was becoming incarnate in her womb. It took nine months just like any other baby, so mundane yet extraordinary. Mary must have marveled at it so many times.

The startling visit from the angel was just the first of many miracles during her months of pregnancy. First Joseph didn’t believe her, but then had his own mysterious visitation, which changed his mind. She visited her relative Elizabeth—barren her whole marriage—who shared her own amazing story of angel visits and an unexpected yet joyous pregnancy.

Mary experienced the incarnation of Christ in the most unique way possible within the Gospel story. Physically, she birthed Jesus Christ. Spiritually, she praised God with her beautiful Magnificat, saying in Luke 1:46-49, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” She treasured and pondered the meaning of all the strange things that were happening to her: the conception and birth, the unexpected visit of shepherds, the “wise men” that showed up on her doorstep.

She believed in the incarnation. She held the incarnation in her own hands, had seen it with her own eyes. She herself became a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Mary teaches me that just like I’m preparing and waiting for the birth of my new baby, so I need to prepare and wait for the incarnation of Christ. Yes, as a historic event Christ has already come, but he’s coming too. He’s always coming, every year, every season, every day.

Everyday I can prepare room for Christ in my heart. I can make manifest the Holy Spirit at work inside my soul. Each moment of each day I have the opportunity to incarnate Christ to others.

That is what Advent reminds me to do. To prepare for Christ’s coming: past, present, and future. To be like Mary and prepare room for him in my heart.

Hamilton {for kids}

I have found that my kids' interest often mirror my own. Even if but for a brief period.

So, it shouldn't have surprised me when I started listening to the Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton that they too would find the story interesting.

"Who was Alexander Hamilton?" and "What is dueling?" became some common questions in our house.

But, unless you want to explain to your kids what the Reynolds Pamphlet was all about (ahem) one might want to find a kid-friendlier version of history than the musical--until they're a bit older.

So off to the library I went to check out these wonderful picture books:

Duel! Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words and Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History. Both books have delightful illustrations and detail the almost ironically parallel lives that Hamilton and Burr lived. Duel! also does a good job of explaining that both men could have made different/better choices than dueling, should they have wished. It wasn't something they had to do. It also gives a short history of dueling in America and talks about other famous Americans who dueled (Andrew Jackson) or almost dueled (Abraham Lincoln).

So if your kids have caught Hamilton fever too, check out these books out!

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Come Let Us Adore Him: Resources for Celebrating Advent

 

Advent. It means “coming.” It is an invitation to come and adore Christ.

Every year I’m excited for the Advent season. Every year Advent centers my heart on what counts as Christmas nears. It helps me keep close to Christ in the hustle and bustle so that Christmas Eve doesn’t arrive and it just dawns on me, O yeah, I’m supposed to be celebrating Jesus’ birth!

It is so easy to get caught up in the stress and expectations of Christmas: to make it bigger and better. But I want to teach my kids Christmas isn’t about the tree, lights, cookies, and gifts. It’s not about materialism or even family.

It’s about the coming of Jesus.

Today I'm sharing over at For the Family some of the traditions that help us quiet our hearts for Christmas.