“I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem….” So goes a chorus of one song I learned many years ago. It talks about preparing one’s heart to receive Jesus again at Christmas.

I was thinking about this song recently. And usually what comes to my mind is having the home of my heart all spic-and-span. But this time, something else came to mind. And it wasn’t a magical or majestic picture, one we so often see in holiday greeting cards.

It was about stink. And mess. And not being ready…sort of.

(Obviously, these are not the top-of-mind words when we hear “Advent” or “Christmas.” Let me explain.)

Stink (read: animals)
Mess — I don’t think this stable would be featured in a home magazine under the “Organization” category…and imagine all that dust and dirt…
Not being ready — Perhaps the stable was caught off guard… What?! The Messiah is going to be born here?! Um…er…I don’t even have a bed! Oh wait…here’s a manger…

Doesn’t that make you wonder why God chose such a place for royalty to be born?

Could it be that He’s telling us that we don’t have to have it all together for Him to be born anew in our hearts? That He comes to us in the messiness and imperfection of our lives? That even if we’re not 100% ready, He surprises us by accepting whatever little we have to make Him feel at home, and makes us realize that His presence is enough to bring that holy warmth to our souls?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t make any effort to prepare the best way we can. But it reminds us that even with imperfect preparations and less than ideal circumstances, Christ can still be there. Christ in Christmas — that’s what it’s all about.

Need some room to breathe and encounter Christ amid all the busyness of the season? Then I invite you to a free online Advent Retreat that I’m hosting on my FB page. Click here and request to join so I can add you. 🙂


If you’d rather do your own mini-retreat, then check out my “Stress-free Christmas mini-course” which is on sale now. Click here for the details. Blessings!

Linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee here.