“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NRSVUE).
The weather station hyped the storm for several days in advance. We were warned to stock up on groceries and to make sure we had batteries for our flashlights in case of power outages. I made the mistake of heading to Wal-Mart for some last minute necessities, only to be greeted by thousands of my closest friends doing the same thing. We joked with each other that we were all preparing for a storm that would most likely be a dud, but in the off chance the forecast was correct, we wanted to be prepared.
School cancellations were announced the night before the snow started falling–a rarity for western Nebraska. The Department of Roads urged people to think twice before traveling. The Winter Storm Warning was upgraded to a Blizzard Warning, and it seemed the only thing left to do was to “settle down for a long winter’s nap.”
Sure enough, the blizzard arrived. The ground was coated with a layer of ice, and the wind drove the snow so wildly that some areas of the yard had grass completely uncovered while other parts of the yard had drifts three feet high. One after another, schools closed for the second day in a row. Businesses sent employees home early, and the people with jobs that don’t close down ventured out onto icy, snow-covered roads.
Snow storms amaze me because they have a way of forcing their way into our schedules and making us take a break or make adjustments to our lives. They don’t care what our plans are, or what our to-do lists demand. They roar in, clear our calendars, and make space for slowness and stillness.
“God made room in the world for the Christ child because the world, left to its own devices, would never have made the space on its own.”
This morning as I was trying to dig out my driveway from an impressive snow drift, I realized how much I sanitize the story of the birth of Jesus in my mind. I like to imagine the world waiting for a Savior with open hands, but the truth is, God had to tear open the heavens and come down to a world that was too busy, too engaged in power struggles, too fixated on doing things in the usual way. God made room in the world for the Christ child because the world, left to its own devices, would never have made the space on its own.
I came across a quote somewhere that said (to paraphrase) that each of us has the opportunity to decide if we have room for Jesus in our hearts. We can open up the inns of our hearts, or we can relegate the miracle to the barn out back, but ultimately the choice is up to us. I agree to a point, but I know I would never set aside time for making room if it was left up to me. Despite my best intentions to the contrary, I cling to excess, to busyness, to my divided focus, and to cramming every bit of my life to overflowing with things that do not last or satisfy.
This Christmas, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the way God makes space. God doesn’t wait until we’ve cleaned up our act to show up; God arrives and makes the space we so desperately long for. God shows up as a baby and invites us to slow down and to marvel at the mystery of the Word made flesh. And for a moment, I set down all that distracts me. I creep close to the manger, and I whisper, “Surely, God is in this place.”
“God shows up as a baby and invites us to slow down and to marvel at the mystery of the Word made flesh.”
Prayer: God with Us, thank you for choosing to dwell with us, in our mess, in our busyness, and in our longing for something more. Slow us down today to receive the miracle of your birth. Give us eyes to see the space you are making within us, and give us the courage to receive it as a gift. Amen.
Read other pieces in our 2022 Advent Series by April Fiet:
Giving up Busyness for Advent–Peace
Giving up Excess for Advent–Hope
Finding Simplicity for Advent — Joy
Love this. Rich images and so honest. Thank you. I will be digging deeper.