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.
Humility, says Andrew Murray, is “the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.” This rings true, but here is where we can get stuck. Self won’t push self out! So now what? Now see Jesus! Read Philippians 2 for a feast on Christ’s soul saving humility, and get ready to sing! The movement of the Infinite and all powerful God towards us, the finite and weak, in Christ’s incarnation, is a complete reversal of our human pride. Christ makes room for us. “Christ’s humility is the remedy, because our pride is the ailment” (Deborah Wallace Ruddy). In His humble presence is fullness of joy. When Jesus is in the room, we can see things we could not possibly see otherwise: our desperate need and His Kingly beauty. Let the singing begin!
If you're looking for a way to more intentionally prepare your heart to receive Christ this season, Fellowship has gathered several resources to help you do that. There are videos to watch, family activities to do together, books to read and music to listen to. We pray that this is a fruitful season of Joy for you.