Joy to the world the Lord has come
Let earth receive her king
Let every heart prepare him room
Joy to the world is such an uplifting carol for this time of year, it is celebratory and triumphant. But what does “let every heart prepare him room” mean? When a guest comes to stay, we prepare a room for them. Maybe there is work to do as well in preparing room for Christ at Christmas? Maybe we need to clear out some things to create space for him, like clearing out the spare room for the arrival of a guest. This advent join with me as I investigate this phrase prepare him room …
There is a proverb that says:
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
I’m sure Mary and Joseph had plans. They had been engaged for a while, I am sure they had expectations for their marriage and their life together. And yet their plans got drastically rearranged with two angelic visits.
Both Mary and Joseph had an intimate understanding of the proverb above. They both had to give up their expectations of what their life together would look like. They both had to accept that they were involved in purposes that were far beyond any they could comprehend.
I find their reactions to this massive change in their plans absolutely astounding. Mary, although initially fearful of the angel, answers him with, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”* While Joseph wakes from his dream, and does what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do.*
The calm acceptance of this young couple in the face of a massive change of their plans, puts me to shame.
For I can often be heard grumbling when small things in life don’t go to plan. And Christmas, a time when I should be exhibiting more grace and joy and goodwill, is often a time when I have more expectations. Expectations around the beauty of the traditions, the behaviour of my kids, or the quality of the food. It is indeed a time of many plans, a good deal of them are created by me.
How do I react in this season when my plans go awry? How do I prepare him room in a time that is over-scheduled and over-planned? How do I react when in fact he puts my plans aside in order for his purposes to prevail?
This Christmas my prayer is that I will have a heart like Mary to accept his plans in my heart, especially when they interfere with my own. And I pray that I may have a heart like Joseph, to get up each day and do what God has commanded me to do.
*Luke 1:38 and Matthew 1:24