We come to the final segment of our Advent message series entitled, What Are You Waiting For? … and more importantly we come to the end of the Advent season ... a time to ready our hearts for Jesus.
For the last four weeks, we have been walking and praying, and thinking about the meaning in our own spiritual lives about FOCUS, OBEY, and REJOICE. This week we come to the theme of MAKE ROOM.
I’m not so sure about you, but I really need to work on MAKING ROOM, not only for the Lord, but making room in my life – a sort of spiritual and physical decluttering. I find that sometimes, we can allow ourselves to fill our days, our minds, our hearts and even our houses with so much, that essentially we’ve blocked room for all the important stuff, not the least of which is space for our Lord.
The #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, also a Netflix series, entitled Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: The Original Guide to Decluttering Your Home Once and For All is insightful and may even be helpful for our spiritual lives and reflections this week.
Maybe you’re familiar with the pint-sized, joyful minimalist Marie Kondo, author of the The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and star of the previously-referenced Netflix show. But in addition to everything one can learn from her, other than how to fold, organize, and declutter, perhaps on this fourth Sunday of Advent we can also explore four lessons in that same vein that can spark more joy in our life.
1. LEARN HOW TO LET GO
Oftentimes, it can feel hard to throw away something that we’ve classified as sentimental. Such things might include scrapbooks with old photos, wedding invitations, birthday cards from fifteen years ago, all stashed away in drawers, closets, and under the bed. It can surely feel difficult to part with them, but the truth is that our relationships are experiences not contained within an object.
What about spiritually – what bad memories, experiences, thoughts, etc. can we let go? – things that produce negative energy … that are taking up space? Think of a few now ... We can’t move forward unless we’re willing to let go of the past – especially those items that are toxic, preventing us from experiencing and sharing true joy.
2. LEARN HOW TO HAVE GRATITUDE FOR EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE
I’m sure that many of us have felt the rush of purchasing a new suit, shirt, vestment, tie, blouse, outfit, whatever, only to wake up the next day, certain that there’s something else we need to buy in order to feel happy. We can make a conscious choice to appreciate what we have, rather than always seeking for more.
What about with spiritual things? Gifts, that come to us from God? Are we connected to precisely how special we really are in God’s eyes, or are we always looking for what we don’t have … comparing ourselves to others? Let’s take a moment to be grateful for the gifts that God has given us.
3. LEARN TO SPEND LESS TIME TENDING TO POSSESSIONS
We can spend time browsing the latest trends, only to find that when we buy new things, we have to wash, store, and organize them. In the morning, we’re sorting through piles of mismatched socks, or tripping over piles of books, or wondering where to put the 5th set of china … Surely, every item we purchase has the potential to bring us joy, but they also cost us. They cost money, time, and energy.
This time of the year is a good time to pare down our possessions, freeing up time and resources we can use to actually enjoy life – perhaps even in serving someone else.
4. LEARN HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW
Whether we want a new job, a new relationship, a new group of friends, new furniture, or maybe even new flatware, we need to make room. When we’re so busy tending to our possessions, life can’t bring us anything new.
When we’re barely able to function in our current mess, the presence of God, and his little voice both inside and outside us is drowned out by everything else.
If we want a new or better relationship with God, we need to create space for God … a physical and spiritual clearing out of so many things taking up unnecessary space.
One blogger wrote that the mind loves complexity, whereas spirit keeps things simple. Spirit is content and appreciative of all things. It doesn’t chase after more. All spiritual masters live simply.
Think about what’s happening in the first reading today from the second book of Samuel, the text reads:
When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
In other words, David feels a little awkward since he's living in a nice house made of fine cedar wood, but God's Ark is just roughing it in a tent. He suggests maybe building a temple to the prophet Nathan—and Nathan says David should do what he thinks best.
But that night, what does God say? God's voice speaks to Nathan and tells him that he actually hasn't had a problem living in a tent all these years. God reminds Nathan that he's never asked any of the former tribal leaders of Israel to build him a temple—and he won't ask David, either.
In other words, the presence of God can and probably is found in simplicity – not necessarily in a cedar house, nor even in any of the big houses around us … God’s presence can be found even in a tent … if we make space.
Soon, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus … not born of rich or noble parents, nor from a fancy town, nor in a luxurious house … instead born of simple parents, from a nothing town … in a stable.
We’re at the 4th Sunday of Advent … perhaps it’s time for us to declutter … spiritually and otherwise … to simplify … to let go …
Christmas is almost here … and Christ wants us to make room for him … so, What are we waiting for?