One of the things I greatly appreciate, but have so far never had the opportunity to do in a home of my own, is to sit in front of an open log fire in winter.
The secret to being able to enjoy a log fire in winter is to take the time to split logs throughout the rest of the year. It is a slow, careful process of making sure you have the resources you will need to get through the lean time. Not long ago, an older local man showed me the log-pile at the side of his house; I wonder whether a younger man would have the patience?
It strikes me that this time of year we have a tendency to combine a flurry of additional activity with the peak in coughs, colds and man-flu, thus making ourselves susceptible to illness. We run ourselves down.
Perhaps our pacing is somewhat out. Yes, there are certain activities which by definition belong to this season. But perhaps if we find ourselves fitting-in too many Christmas dinners, socials and parties, it is an indicator to us that we are connected to too many communities at once.
Jesus told his disciples, go to one village at a time, and look for one person who will welcome you through serving you.
You can only fit so many people around a fireplace. Perhaps Advent is rightly a time to slow down, not speed up. To ask, who are the people who have helped me stock the log-pile this year – who have put in the time investing in our relationship over the course of many months – and to prioritise spending time with them over other invitations and opportunities.
That is not to deny the place of networking – of connecting people who have you as an acquaintance in common. But it is to attempt to address the hectic nature the approach to Christmas has built up around it.
In this way we make room for Jesus at the fireplace, by taking time to honour those who have ministered to our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.
Advent: making room for Jesus – at the fireplace.