Dear Friends of Penn Central
I love the old German tale retold by Helen Steiner Rice,
The Christmas Guest
. When I was a child, my family would read the little book about Conrad and Jesus over and over this time of year. I really liked how dedicated Conrad was to preparing his home for the Lord's visit; yet he always had time for those that stopped by his shop needing love, needing hope, needing peace and joy.
This past Sunday was Lessons and Carols at Christ Church in Elizabethtown. One reader said "along with Mary we are all expecting." Whew! I almost doubled over with the punch to the gut from the teenager at the mic. I looked around to see if I had audibly made that “oopph” sound that I hoped I had made in my head. No one was staring at me, so I quickly assumed I had remained silent in my Advent epiphany.
But I was awestruck by the power of that moment. I don’t think that I had spiritually arrived in this Advent season until that moment! Am I expecting, I wondered. The kids had sung something about would I have seen the star or had room if I were there. Would I? Will I?
Here we are right in the middle of this season of expectancy and preparation. There are near constant reminders of what to expect beneath the tree in a couple weeks. What reminders do we have as individuals and the Church, for preparing ourselves and our communities for hope and peace, the Advent candles already burning? This Sunday, we ignite joy. Are we ready for joy? Is there room in our lives for true joy?
Sweeping out fear and doubt, we can prepare space for hope.
Getting rid of clutter and turning off the gadgets that cry out for our time, we make space for peace in our hearts and lives.
Moving out of melancholy and despair helps to create the space needed for joy to live in and through us.
Friends, God’s love is about to be born anew in each of us! Use this season of preparation and expectancy to ensure that you have space for all of the hope, and peace and joy that the arrival of that love promises. Yes, God’s love is about to be born anew in each and every one of us! Friends, that is reason enough to be about our homes, our lives, preparing for the Lord to come.
Start a conversation today about your preparation or expectancy. Who will you talk to? What will you say about God’s love coming again? Or the hope, peace and joy that its arrival promises? Do you see the star? Have you made room? God’s love is coming anew. Get ready!
[editor's note: Reba McEntire reads The Christmas Guest on her album Merry Christmas To You and listening to it is one of my favorite Christmastime memories. Listen
. - Paul]