December 24, 2010 ( – For some reason there were Cheerio crumbs all over the living room rug. Everything seemed normal, with a few scattered playthings on the floor, but no clue as to the reason for the piles of crumbs, which were deduced to be Cheerios by the stray intact O’s scattered here and there.

My wife summoned the two youngest children in for interrogation. Mary, 6, and Lucas, 5, bounded into the living room without the slightest apprehension. Upon hearing the question it was Mary who replied on their behalf.  There was no remorse in her voice. 

“You see Mom, the nuts were too hard to crack in the nutcrackers but Lucas thought the Cheerios would be easy, and they were,” she said with excitement and a hint of pride in a job well done.

As Christmastime approaches our homes get all spruced up.  The tree provides aroma, light and glitter while the crèche is assembled with care.  Cleaning, baking, haircuts, shopping, wrapping and more cleaning all go in to the physical preparations for the celebration of the birth of Christ.

But what of the internal preparations? No, I don’t mean dieting before all those Christmas delicacies. 

Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty?  I do, or I should say I am running on empty. 

I find myself selfish, not getting done what I want, overwhelmed, stressed, scattered, loud, distracted, tired, irritable, self-pitying, over exerted, helpless, hopeless and weak – all of which makes me frustrated.

Don’t get the impression that I’m depressed though.  I’m not.  I’m weak and rather useless, I know that.  And when I face reality I can accept that, knowing that I’m not running the ship.  Anything good that comes from me is Christ living in me.

How else can we face the culture war we’re living in without getting totally depressed?  The forces arrayed against life and family are immense.  The culture of death seems to have all the resources in the world – money, power, mainstream media, intelligence, deceit, technical prowess, even talent and all the seductions of the world and the flesh.  In reality we’re battling spirits of darkness with powers beyond anything we could ever hope to muster ourselves.

But in a certain sense we don’t have to worry about all that, because our battle is fought and won by the Savior of Mankind, the King of Kings, the Creator of the Universe, the All-Powerful God. We are called only to be faithful to Him and He will supply what we need for the battle.

If we are but faithful to Him we become a source of healing in this broken world of ours.  But being faithful is no simple task, because we are broken ourselves.

It seems hard enough to try to avoid disappointing family, friends, colleagues and most of all God, let alone trying to do something of real benefit.

Our part is to struggle to love God – which is to be obedient to Him – to avoid evil and do good.  But even when we succumb to temptation let’s remember and admit that evil is evil and never warp ourselves into believing that it’s good.  That is truly dangerous. 

When we fall, we have recourse to forgiveness from an All-Loving Father Who wants nothing more than to accept us back into His House.

That’s all there is to it. 

All the sophistication in the world and the underworld cannot foil God’s work, even when He chooses to carry out His work through feeble servants such as you and me.  That inspires in me a great and undying hope.

So let’s all try to work to crack the nuts of our failings big and small, and if the nut is too difficult let’s start with the Cheerios and keep working at it, asking the Father for assistance.

I imagine the stable in Bethlehem was smelly and cold, strewn with dirt and cobwebs, hardly worthy of the animals, definitely not worthy of human habitation let alone that of the God-man.

Therein entered one just and holy man who made ready the poor stable for his wife and for the birth of her Child.  I’m sure he cleaned and tidied, sweeping away excrement and cobwebs. He got soft hay for a bed for his bride who was about to deliver.  He made the best he could out of a feeding trough for a bed for the Child about to be born.  He would light a fire, to give warmth and light to the poor surroundings.

There’s not much beyond this type of tidy-up we can do to make the stable of our hearts fit for the King of Kings. Despite the poverty and filth the King of Kings desired to be born in that stable.

The stable of my heart is much more filthy and poor than that stable where the Savior of Mankind chose to be born, yet He begs entrance and I want nothing more than to give entrance to my maker, to the One I adore.

In the Bible there is recorded the account of a Roman centurion who recognized Jesus as the Messiah and begged from Him healing for his ailing servant. When Christ was to come to his house to heal the servant, the centurion sent word saying “Lord I am not worthy that Thou should enter under my roof but only say the word and my servant shall be healed.” (Mathew 8:8)

Christmas is for Christians an everyday occurrence.  Christ seeks entry into the stables of our hearts each and every day.  Let us open our hearts wide to the coming of Christ. Let us say with the centurion: “Lord I am not worthy that Thou should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my heart shall be healed.”


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