Chasing the Thrill of Hope | Week Two: Be Present
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Advent Series Introduction
I started wondering how it’s all going to fit together this year. How do I check off all the must’s, but balance them with all of the maybe’s that are such a reality this season — and still embrace the miracle of Christmas?
Maybe we’re thinking about it wrong.
Maybe, if we didn’t work toward Christmas like its a deadline, we could see the miracle embedded in the must’s and maybe’s? That the miracle lives in the thrill of hope we carry with us every day?
That’s what this Advent series is about. To stay centered around the thrill of our hope, to stay mindful of the miracle every day, we can look to the profound simplicity in the Christmas story.
In the middle of her own worries and cares, Mary chose to be open to God’s plans.
In the middle of chaos, the innkeeper chose to be present.
In the middle of their must’s, the shepherds chose to be still.
This Advent, let’s follow their lead and not miss the miracle. Let’s chase the thrill of hope in this weary world by choosing to be open, to be present, and to be still.
Week 2: Be Present
Week Two: Be Present
I continued my ritual again this morning. The preparing of coffee, the snuggling into my chair to catch the morning light, the lighting of a cinnamon candle and the planning out of the hours ahead. It brings me great comfort and joy to create and then check those tidy boxes, especially this time of year, when my list has extra sparkly categories.
Though, I have to confess, I feel a nagging in the tidiness. I wonder, as I focus on my not unimportant tasks, am I overlooking something? Am I too attached to my list to be present in the moments that matter?
It’s these thoughts that pull on me when I read that weighty phrase, “Because there was no place for them in the inn.”
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:1-7, ESV).
The construction of this last verse isn’t sequential, as it first highlights of the biggest event: Jesus’ birth. Only after he is born, tacked on at the end, do we read that there was no room in the inn. Here is our glimpse of the moments that led to the birth and the swaddling cloths and the manger.
No room. This is what weighs on me: No room for a king.
I’ve often wondered about how this all unfolded. What conversations led to Mary and Joseph taking up temporary residence where this manger resided? How many people did they ask for a room? But one person, likely the owner of this stable, and perhaps the innkeeper, stayed present in a conversation where the obvious answer was “no.” Somehow, in the middle of full rooms and extra people and a long list of easy reasons to turn them away, he noticed Mary’s very pregnant belly, and the look of desperation on their faces. The pregnancy, the census, the fulfillment of prophecy, all lined up here, in this moment that mattered. Jesus was coming. And the innkeeper made room.
When he said, “Here, I have this place,” he made room for God to tell His perfect story. Though meager and stark, we see in those swaddling cloths and that humble manger a story of provision. Of significance. We see a place prepared for them. A place set apart.
Jim Elliott, the missionary who gave up everything for God, said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I think back to that verse that pulls on me — I don’t want it to be said that there is no room in my mind or heart. In the middle of the swell that comes with Christmas activity and pandemic unknowns, and in the middle of my cozy rituals and comfy routines, I pray that wherever I am, that I would be all there. Because Jesus isn't waiting in that little calendar square that reads “December 25.” He’s in every minute of every Target run and work meeting and carpool and kitchen cleanup.
He is here, now, with us. And He's planned a place for us, too. A place set apart.
Let’s not miss the miracle because of the chaos.
Let’s be present in the moments that matter.
Let’s make room for our King.
He is where we find the thrill of hope.
How has your own chaos kept you from being present with God?
Where can you make room for God?
What does it look like to “be present” with Him? With others in your life?
When have you noticed when someone has chosen to be present with you and what did that mean to you?
What specific habits or distractions or obstacles might keep you from moments that matter?
What can you do to notice the moments that matter in your day-to-day activities and routines?
Are there places where I need to make room for Jesus?
Am I aware of being present or not being present at times of my day? When are those times?
What practical steps I can take to be more present in my day-to-day? What does it look like?
Is there a daily practice I can insert into my day to prompt me to be present? A weekly practice?
How can I pray to be more present, even in the busy and the chaos of these weeks before Christmas?