A gentle knocking

There is a lovely festival in the church in Mexico called Las Posadas, which means Inns or Lodgings.  Typically, each family in a neighborhood will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 12th of December and finishing on the 24th. Every home has a nativity scene and the occupants are the innkeepers  The children and adults of the neighborhood are the pilgrims who have to request lodging by going house to house singing traditional songs. The pilgrims carry candles in their hands, and small statues of Joseph leading a donkey, on which Mary is riding. At each house the resident responds by refusing lodging until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party, where Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the "innkeepers" let them in, the pilgrims come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray.

Our crib will be filled on Christmas Eve as we invite the children to come and hear the Christmas story and find places for Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the crib.  

We talk about our churches being houses of God. And as such they are precious to us and are adorned as befits such a worthy occupant, with all the care and artistry that we can muster.Sir John Betjeman wrote:

The holly in the windy hedge

And round the manor house the yew

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,

The altar, font and arch and pew,

So that the villagers can say

‘The church looks nice on Christmas Day’.

This is indeed God’s house and it should be adorned for Christmas. It is important not to decorate our churches to early, churches should be leading us to the great day, so that when it comes it is not an anti-climax. The church’s role is to be the Advent messenger reminding the world that Jesus is 'the reason for the season'. But we must also wait. Here we remain in Advent, the time of waiting. But  we wait with hope. We know the good thing that is coming to us, that recalling of the first coming. How terrible if Christmas Eve were to come with the feeling that we got all this over with a couple of weeks ago.

God is worth more than we can possibly offer him. ‘What can I give him ,poor as I am?’ Well-intentioned King David, decided to pay God back and reward him by building him a temple. It did not seem right that the King should live in a better house than God, left outside in a tent. But he was giving God a present he did not wish for, as God has always moved about with liberty. David was told that he would have to wait for a temple to be built, after he had died, by his son Solomon.

God was never to be confined, to a tabernacle or a temple, just as we cannot confine and label God and think that we have got him. The Spirit of God blows where it will. God’s Spirit found a place to dwell in the Virgin Mary, a person as ordinary and humble as the manger in which she laid her new-born child. Mary, whose obedient response in spite of her fears, showed how God chose wisely: 'let it be with me as you have said.'

No doubt your homes are all adorned now for Christmas, and you’re struggling to find a place for the cards, and there’s one that will keep falling over when you close the door.

But God is looking for a place to dwell this Christmas. We may talk about Santa Claus coming down every chimney, and the children wonder if Rudolf really eats all those carrots left out for him, and is there really a naughty elf who put cling film on the front door. But this Christmas just as with the Posadas in Mexico, there will be a soft tapping on the doors of our hearts. God will be knocking on the door of every heart this Christmas. A soft gentle tap perhaps but if you’re quiet and still and listening out you’ll feel it.

Will he find your heart be open to receive him.

And will you let him in?