This morning’s devotional is offered by Yancey Washington.
Earlier this month, I had the great opportunity to accompany my son, James, and his Fourth Grade Class on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of History. It is a wonderful museum. The main exhibit does a good job of conveying the state’s history from the prehistoric era up through today. Of the many things I saw, one part of the exhibit that stood out to me was the first floor of a home from the 1840’s. It was two rooms and you could walk through it. We have homes from this period and earlier here in Oxford, but the museum’s signs stated this home was included in the exhibit because it typified a house in eastern North Carolina of the time. The home was simple and the possessions inside were probably less than fifty items.
By contrast, it is almost a truism that many in America’s present generation, myself included, have more possessions than the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. An internet search “how many items are in the average American household,” yields as a first response a whopping average of 300,000 items, citing the Los Angles Times and U.S. Department of Energy. Having nice possessions is truly a blessing, but I find that I spend more time than I would like decluttering and organizing. I have long known, my 1950’s era home was not designed to hold the spoils of big box retailer style shopping, and sometimes I’m glad of it.
If physical decluttering is necessary, so too is spiritual decluttering. I believe that is what Isaac Watts meant when he included the line “Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room” in his 1719 carol “Joy to the World.” In our present era of 24-hour news, social media and on-demand television and entertainment, I wonder if spiritual decluttering is more important than ever? We certainly have more to distract us, many of us carry computers in our pockets (phones) that allow instant access to more information than dozens of metropolitan libraries combined and which, without proper vigilance, are apt to ring or chime at the most inopportune moments. Is it harder for us than, generations past to set aside distraction and prepare room in our hearts for the gift of salvation given to us and all of mankind through the birth of Jesus? Arguably so, but I think the gospel bears out that the world has always been distracting and distracted from the love of God, for Jesus was born into a world without room for him.
My prayer is that advent for each of us is a season to spiritually declutter and make room in our hearts to re-experience the joy of Jesus’ birth. Merry Christmas!