FINDING EMMANUEL IN THE STUFF OF CHRISTMAS
For many people, decorating the home is an accepted part of the customary run up to Christmas. However, as we have seen with other seasonal traditions, this can be done just because ‘we always do it’, or, if invested with faith, it can become a powerful means of blessing for us personally, and for our families and friends.
Take the ‘welcome wreath’ for example…
Christmas wreaths hanging on our front doors beckon friends and neighbours into our personal space. The circle of evergreens and the adornment of ‘fruit’ of some description are a reminder of the eternal Tree of Life in Revelation, which bears fruit in every season, its leaves for the healing of the nations [Revelation 22:2]. The wreath marks the boundary between our inside ‘sacred space’ and the outside world. The ancient Celtic Christians in the UK aimed for the monasteries they established to be ‘Colonies of Heaven’, outposts of the Kingdom. What if we saw our homes the same way, and prayed that everyone crossing the threshold would have the sense of stepping from the world and its stresses (and there are a lot of those at the moment), into a sanctuary where things look different.
And what if we prayed that the Lord’s healing would fall each time the door is opened? That the balm of His Spirit be poured into every dark and wounded place, bringing light and wholeness, and a sense of home?
Once inside, perhaps we can create an atmosphere of welcome, according to our gifts, an environment where housemates and visitors feel embraced and at ease (rather than living in a photo-shoot!)
It is interesting that the first record of someone being filled with the Spirit was Bezalel [Exodus 31:1-11] whose job was to use his creative skills to make prophetic accoutrements, and otherwise beautify the Tabernacle.
Later in Israel’s history, we read that the Queen of Sheba was so affected by the environment she found herself in, that she had ‘no more spirit in her’ [2 Chronicles 9:1-12 NKJV], which I think meant her clamorous spirit was quietened, leaving her calm and responsive. She was then able to receive revelation and went away blessed and ‘filled’.
Let’s pray for the anointing and inspiration to create a sanctuary for others; a place where peace can settle, clamour can drain away, and hearts can turn towards the Lord.
Decorating with natural materials is one way of doing this, as the connection with our physical environment and its seasonal rhythms has a calming effect, and we can find meaning in the foliage we choose. (For example, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, evergreens may speak to us of the eternal love and faithfulness of God, giving us the promise of Spring in the depths of winter. Open fir cones may tell of fallen seed in the ground waiting for the time of growth, and eventual fruitfulness; And crimson holly berries may remind us of the price paid for us to have eternal life.)
Another popular way of decorating for the Christmas season is through a variety of festive lights (much needed here in the north at this the darkest time of the year). Candlelight in particular, provides light in a way which draws us in, and quietens our souls, and so we can use them personally to focus on the Lord and listen to His voice. And as light by its very nature automatically drives out darkness, we can pray as we light our candles and our Christmas trees, that the dark places in our own lives, our families and our neighbourhoods would be increasingly filled with the Light of Christ. We can light them as a prophetic message of hope in a dark world.
We can also add creative prayer to favourite displays, for example writing the names of local communities on pebbles and added them to a model Christmas village, or the names of family members to an Advent spiral. It is a different way of holding special people and places before the Lord.
Maybe we think that creating such an environment is impossible because of our resources, circumstances or lack of aptitude. However, the most beautifully created backdrop is merely an empty shell without the presence of Emmanuel. And we can all pray.
We can all pray that the light of His presence would fill every bit of our home, and that everyone coming in over this Christmas season would know it—whether they can articulate it or not. I know this prayer is answered for it is one we pray often, and we have had so many visitors comment on the peace that enfolds them. Some haven’t met Jesus yet, but they all know there is something different…
Remembering our prayer for Advent, let’s pray over our decorations, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
NEXT WEEK: GLORY IN THE OUTHOUSE
The God who is at home in the commonplace...
SOMETHING TO SHARE?
[Photo credits: Jez Timms (wreath); Anthony Delanoix (candles); Diliara Garifullina (gingerbread houses);
Kelly Sikkema (writing paper) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
All text and photographs,
unless otherwise credited
All rights reserved.
All credited photos are used by permission from
**The owner of this website, www.rhythmsofgraceuk.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Programme. This is an affiliate advertising programme which earns fees for sites which advertise and link to products supplied by Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, and amazon.co.uk.
Please note: commissions are supplied by Amazon; there are no hidden costs for visitors to this website, and all resources shown are genuine recommendations,