by Faith Parker
“Joy to the world the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing”
This beloved Christmas carol, by Isaac Watts, is based on Psalm 98. It is an exuberant, all creation rollicking Hallelujah for the coming salvation of the LORD. God has remembered us and the world is rocking with delight!
As delightful as the carol is, the joyful words can feel distant to our experience. There is often energy in the holidays, but not necessarily joy. Life spins into lists of must dos with not a space to spare. Perhaps that is why the third line in the stanza stands out. “Let every heart prepare Him room.” This is the one thing, which necessarily precedes singing with joy.
How does one make room for Christ? How can a space be made where there is not space for one more thing? Humbly. There can be no joyous reception if the room is already occupied. Pride has no room for another. It is too busy with its own inflated concerns, but humility gives way.
A Moveable Feast. Not to be confused with Hemingway’s famous autobiographical book, bearing this title, which describes his years as a young writer in Paris, full of joie de vivre (joy of life). No, the moveable feast, I’m referring to is Easter. Long before Hemingway wrote his memoir, Easter was known as a “moveable feast” because it was a Christian celebratory feast day which fell on a different date each year, unlike the other Christian holidays with fixed dates. In 2019, Easter’s moveable feast, falls on April 21st.
This description of Easter seems perfectly suited in more than just it’s nomadic calendar setting. A “moveable feast” suggests that this is a celebration we can take with us, where ever we go. It’s moveable and living, just as we are, just as Christ is. Like packing a fantastic picnic feast, we can celebrate Christ’s living presence in any and every place and situation we find ourselves. But a delicious picnic requires preparation. Historically, the Christian church has set apart the 40 days before Easter to prepare for the “feast” celebrating Christ’s saving death and resurrection.