Three weeks ago I was in a K-Mart and
overheard a woman asking the photographer about family pictures. She
asked how much it would cost to airbrush her photo removing 30 pounds and
then add them to her sister's picture. Minutes later I was in the checkout
lane. Behind me was a little girl about 6 years old. She was
pulling gum and candy off of the shelves and complaining loudly about what
she didn't want for Christmas. All the while her mother kept saying
softly, "Be calm, Susan... relax Susan...take a deep breath Susan." I
finally turned to her and congratulated her saying what a wonderfully patient
mother Susan had. She looked at me and said: "I'm Susan."
Well as I continued to roam the mall, I was overwhelmed with
the racing, anxious, short-tempered shoppers whose preparations for Christmas
seemed to focus more on the commercialism of the season and not on the Reason
for the Season -- Jesus. When I look back to the times of my
youth I remember a slower tempo, a 'sweet' serenity, and a joyful expectancy
of the birth of our Savior all during this holy season.
Have we lost ALL these religious feelings in our modern Advent
of haste, short tempers, commercialism, and fatigue? And, if so, how can
we re-create them - at least in our own hearts?
May I offer you one little way that has helped me through the
years to keep focused on the One whose birth would forever change our lives?
St. Luke records in his gospel that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem,
expecting to find a place for their child to be born. Imagine their
heartbreak when told again and again, "There's no room in the inn."
Throughout my life I've often begged for the Prince of Peace
to be born in my heart, but nothing happened. Why not? Was it
Jesus' fault? No - he desired to come, but there was 'no room in the
inn' of my heart. It was filled with worries, plans, problems, resentments,
fears; all creating a restless anxiety that locked me inward and left 'no
room in the inn.'
Here's a little technique that helped me overcome this: first
I would try to identify the preoccupying worry or draining mood of the moment.
Then I'd name the bad spirit, for example, worry and I'd pray, "Spirit
of 'worry', in the Name of Jesus, depart." It works. The power
comes from the Name of Jesus. Repeating this throughout the days, as
needed, emptied the inn of my heart, leaving a place for Jesus to be born.
Then I create conditions for His coming by selecting a word or phrase
from the Scriptures of the day and repeat it throughout the day like a Mantra.
For example, from today's Psalm 34, I might choose, "Come, O
Lord, do not delay." Or, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."
Or perhaps, "Those who are crushed in Spirit, He Saves."
This practice empties the 'inn of my heart', reminds me of Jesus'
presence, invites His re-birth within me, and creates a richer experience
of the peace that God desires me to be filled with daily.
I invite you to experience the true joy and peace of this holy
season, not just during Advent, but today and every day of your lives through
this simple practice.
A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!
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