Here is a wonderful meditation from the Be Still and God Podcast by Diana Butler Bass. It is called "The Stable is Our Heart."
It is Christmas Eve. A couple of days ago, I got an email from a friend who is the pastor of a church in Annapolis, Maryland. She invited me to participate in an event in February, but she got the date wrong. And then she said I don't know what time it is. I don't know what day it is.
This year has been like that. Indeed this year has been like that. Our calendars have meant little and time has stretched long or seemed incredibly short and yet Christmas Eve.
Here it is, again, a familiar time. A time that many of us love and look forward to all year.
But this is a Christmas Eve unlike any other that most of us have spent in our lives. And it's a little hard to know that it's really Christmas Eve.
It doesn't feel right. The calendar has moved either too fast or too slow. We are unprepared. And how can you celebrate Christmas at a time like this?
This particular Advent. I have leaned into the Poetry of Madeleine l'Engle.
As a way of getting through the strangest Advent I have known. And this poem has said much to my heart.
Into the Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle
It was a time like this,
war & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss –
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.
It was a time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight –
and yet the Prince of bliss came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.
And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is:
with no room on the earth,
the stable is our heart.
And there it is. Even when Jesus was born the world wasn't ready. It was a time like this: war and tumult of war, the violence of Empire, oppression, slavery and injustice. A horror in the air.
The world was full then of fear and lust for power and licensing greed and blight and yet Jesus came. Came into a world where there was no room.
And yet room was made. As the story says room in a stable. Room where there was no room.
And so Jesus came. Jesus was born the prince of bliss into the darkest hour and light broke on the horizon and songs of peace began to be heard through the world. It was a time like this a time like this long ago.
And now a time like this. Now when Christmas Eve arrives again, when we hear the announcement of peace, when the songs come to us, not through angelic harold's in the sky but faces on a zoom screen.
A time when fear and lust for power and licensing greed and blight and corruption and injustice and war and tumult of war, disease. A horror in the air. All of those things have pushed away Christmas.
And so how do we celebrate his birth when all things fall apart?
We make room.
How wonderful it is with no room on the earth, this stable is our heart.
When I first read this poem, I thought that was a little bit of a cop-out. That Jesus is born in our hearts may be in some sentimental way. But then I realized that the stable, the place of hospitality, the place of the open door, the place that we only have right now to welcome, the stable is our heart.
Because we can't open our church doors and we cannot open the doors to our home and we cannot sit our families around tables...the doors of our heart stand open and the stable waits to be filled from that place. From that place deep within the place where we can still welcome no matter what
the world is like, no matter what the time is like, no matter how dark the hour, that is the place where we open the door.
And from that deep place of hospitality, love will grow. Light will shine.
Peace will be heard. And when the doors of the World open wider, we will walk through.... changed. Because our hearts are that stable for love.
I wish you in this darkest hour the best of Christmas. We can still celebrate his birth while all has fallen apart. Because the one thing we still can do is welcome Jesus in our heart.