I love to take time during Advent for prayer, to prepare my heart and my spirit to bear Jesus anew to the world. I try to set time aside for this all through the season.
Right now, though, I feel the need to shift my focus from contemplation to action. I have taken the time to prepare spiritually for Jesus’ birth. At this point in Advent, it is as if I see myself turn from being Mary, who sits at Jesus’ feet soaking in every word, to Martha, who hurries to see that his needs are met. Now, I become like the innkeeper’s wife, scurrying to find bedding for the multitude of visitors who may descend on my little inn. Now, it is time to prepare the food and set the table and make sure that people are comfortable and well-fed. Now is the time to make sure that everything is ready in case unexpected visitors arrive, the way that Mary and Joseph suddenly appeared at the door of the inn.
Just inside the entrance to our house, we have a little sign that says, "Be certain to entertain strangers, for thereby many have entertained angels unaware." I appreciate this constant reminder that everyone deserves hospitality. Any stranger who appears at our door may be bringing a great opportunity. If I can treat each person with dignity and kindness, I can have the privilege of being a participant in God’s grace. Family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers — I want to see and treat each visitor as Mary who carries the Christ within.
It seems to me that these last few days before Christmas are my days to be like the innkeeper’s wife. I want to clean my house and prepare food and get everything ready for visitors, expected and unexpected. Christ will be coming. I want to prepare for all who will carry him to me.