Wednesday, 21 December 2016

will you offer a vacancy?

The other evening, a few girlfriends I've been doing a study with had a little Christmas get together at my house.  Since we all came feeling frazzled, tired, and a bit overwhelmed with so much yet to do, I promised that they would leaved feeling pampered, loved and reminded of what really matters most about Christmas.

My one friend has a gift for finding the perfect song for any occasion, so I asked her to bring one to share that evening.  As expected, she chose a song that was just beautiful -- the kind of song that raises goosebumps and goes straight to the heart of you, leaving you speechless for a few long moments -- as if responding with words might ruin something.  

There was one line in particular that I have not stopped thinking about since:

"The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy."

The song is called "Be Born in Me" and the speaker in the song is a young woman named Mary, chosen by God to receive the great blessing and great burden of bringing the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, into this world. Her vacancy became the fullness of life offered to all humankind.   

What a strange and wonderful thing to offer of yourself -- a vacancy, some empty room in your heart and life. In a world that tells us we should always be fulFILLed, never lacking, never empty, personally satisfied at any cost, it is a strange thought that having a vacancy in your heart might be a good thing; that it might actually be a gift to offer.

But vacancy is a gift that comes with a price.  A heart that is able to offer a vacancy has been emptied of something, sometimes by choice but often not.  Perhaps we've intentionally chosen to give up or let go of something, in order to make room for something better.  Perhaps we've chosen to open our hearts wider, making space to actually feel more pain or more joy,  or to make room for new friendships, or to respond to a need.  But perhaps the vacancy we feel is a result of loss, not by our choice at all.  Maybe we've experienced a loss of someone dear to us or a loss of health.  Maybe it's been the loss of a career or a marriage or a dream,  or the loss of identity that results from such changes. Loss creates a vacancy, one that can feel extremely painful or lonely.  

But could it be possible that a heart-vacancy also allows for new possibilities, for an infilling that could not happen otherwise?  As the Christmas story is told, on the night of Jesus's birth, there was no room at the inn. There was no vacancy.  The world had not prepared a space to receive the Greatest Gift of all.

I can't help but wonder if much has changed since that first Christmas?  I can't help but wonder about myself. 

In all the blessings I've received, in a life abundant with love, family, friendship and grace, am I will to experience an emptiness?  Am I willing to offer a vacancy in my heart and life for Jesus to come and be born in me?

My hope for all of us this Christmas, is that we will make room.  That we will not be satisfied and over-filled with good things, at the risk of missing out on the Best thing, the Giver of Life Himself.

Merry Christmas.  Hugs and love to all of you.

P.S. If you have a few moments, make yourself a warm drink, snuggle into a quiet place and enjoy:  Link: "Be Born in Me" by Nichole Nordeman & sang by Francesca Battistelli

words and images (unless otherwise cited) © copyright Melody Armstrong 2016

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