Blessings to you and Merry Christmas.
On this morning we rejoice and celebrate the birth of a child who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. On this morning we can take off our shoes because we have now come to Bethlehem. On this morning we are standing on holy ground. Our days into nights into days’ journey through Advent has brought us to this place where a squirming, wiggling, giggling baby has come. He has come to live and to love and to teach us how to do the very same things. He has come to make a home in our hearts.
Try as I might I just can’t remember where or when I first heard those words – “let Jesus make a home in your heart.” My hunch is that it was on the corner of 16th and Broadway at the Methodist Church in Mattoon. My hunch is that I was probably four or five. Last night at the Christmas Eve Family Service at Pacific Beach UMC on the corner of Ingram and Thomas, I was watching a couple 4- or 5-year-olds dressed up as sheep and an angel making up the live nativity scene. I wondered about the message they were receiving and how they were hearing it. I wondered about the ways Jesus was making a home in their tiny, precious hearts.
Making a home in my heart is an encompassing proposition. It’s pretty much about all of it. The place that holds my comings and goings, my nourishings and restings, my restorings and renewings. The home of my heart holds my dreams and disappointments, my stories and my history, hopes and fears of all the years. And this morning when I was waking up, I was thinking about house blessings and how they are a way of naming all of what homes hold. And I turned to my old friend, John O’Donohue:
May this house shelter your life.
When you come in home here,
may all the weight of the world
fall from your shoulders.
May your heart be tranquil here,
blessed by peace the world cannot give.
May this be a safe place
full of understanding and acceptance,
where you can be as you are,
without the need of any mask
of pretense or image.
May this be a house of courage,
where healing and growth are loved,
where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
a home where patience of spirit is prized,
and the sight of the destination is never lost
though the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
for the broken and diminished.
May you have eyes to see
that no visitor arrives without a gift
and no guest leaves without a blessing.
During these Adventing days into Bethlehem I’ve been mindful of my holdings on and lettings go. I’ve tried to be thoughtful of making meaning of the matters of my life and of my heart. On this Christmas morning as I think about the miracle of stars shining and angels singing all to announce the coming of one soul, I remember again just how precious this journey has been for me. To stop and to start again. To make my way when I wasn’t really sure where the way was going. To continue on with faith and hope and love enough for the cresting of one more hill. Left foot, right foot.
Fred Craddock told us one time in preaching class at seminary, “In your ministry there will be leaving in your staying and staying in your leaving.” Like many of his turns of phrase, that one stayed with me. On this Christmas morning I am feeling Dr. Craddock’s nudge, his encouragement and reminder to not get too comfortable. I can almost hear him saying to me, “Lesley, that’s fine. Those are pretty good words and now, it’s time to find your shoes and put them back on. You aren’t meant to stay here in Bethlehem all day, there’s plenty yet to do. Don’t worry too much, your heart is going with you, and right there, right in the center is this baby born today, Emmanuel.” With the help of John O’Donohue’s blessing, and Dr. Craddock’s nudge I will continue on my way. How about you? You up for the next adventure?