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December 17, 2013

Leaving Room

Certainly by now, you are fully conscious of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season that is upon us. Many are trying to find time, amongst all our other holiday season activities and parties, to get shopping done and get those items checked off the list that have been requested by your friends and loved ones. And if you are even remotely close to the outdoorsman that I am, you have a wish list as well, filled a mile long with hunting, fishing, truck and outdoor gadgets that you have reminded your wife and other family members about on more than one occasion. Maybe its a brick of .22 bullets, a rangefinder with ARC technology, a new tackle organizer, ruggedized truck seat covers and mats, a dozen arrows, or a new layout blind. Or maybe it's even a larger item, such as a new shotgun, bow, rod and reel, or part for your boat. Regardless of who you are, there's that one item that you are really, really hoping someone remembers to get for you, because without it Christmas just won't seem complete. I have even determined that it is easier on my wife to order some..or many...of these gifts myself, because the 'to me, from me' gifts are almost always exactly what I wanted and rarely ever need to be returned! But is that the crux of Christmas, whether we get that 'must-have' item or not?

Luke 2:1-7 (NASB)
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

How easy it is to get caught up in all the family, friends, decorating, cooking, partying, and gift giving that we forget to leave room in our hearts to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. And it's rather ironic, as the tradition of gift-giving during Christmas originated as a symbol of the gift that had already been given to each of us in the embodiment of Jesus. This irony is not a recent development, no it existed during the very time when Jesus was born. See, there was such a crowd in Bethlehem due to everyone returning home for the census, that all the available lodging and quarters were taken. There was no more room for Joseph, Mary and the soon to be born Jesus. Now, there was not any hatred or hostility exhibited by the crowds in Bethlehem towards Him - Jesus was just simply crowded out. The Messiah that Israel had been hoping and praying would come into the world to rescue them from their plight was crowded out, overlooked and overshadowed by the people's every day concerns and tasks. They simply missed Him in their busyness and traditions. Even later during His earthly ministry, most people did not have room or make room for Jesus' teachings, insights, and unconditional love. And that same thing continues today - we too often choose to replace His deserved space with other things that we deem more important at the time; it's just a little easier to be reminded of it as this time of year coincides with Jesus' birth.

Some families I know have decided to minimize their decorating, gift-giving, going and doing this year in order to 'make more room' for Christ during this Christmas season. How about you - will you make a concerted effort to leave room for Him? Let your focus be on the gift that was already freely given to and for you, rather than on that item you feel you 'must have' this Christmas. - GE

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