A Christmas Mini-Retreat
An empty, echoing room lined with lights and tinsel. Open, unfilled space, not yet prepared. An invitation left unsent. Shadows and darkness ping off of the walls. And the knock on the door goes unnoticed.
These words offer a picture of a soul longing for the fullness of Jesus even among the fullness of the holidays. There is something lacking in the echoing space of our hearts. We long for more. And there is more to come. More light to let in. More life. More of God’s presence. Gratefully, we are able, and even designed to, open up to and prepare for that more.
Some of us address the busyness of the Christmas season by creating time for Advent readings or reflections on the powerful story of Jesus’ birth. These are helpful in this time of year, which can be filled with activity and events and preparing for meals and the giving of gifts. Or alternatively, filled with loneliness or all manner of difficulty or despair.
Different years, I can experience quite the mix. But every year I long for the days to be meaningful, and I search for a way to connect more intimately with Jesus and the depth of his presence and gift. I long to let my heart prepare him room, as the hymn Joy to the World invites. We can do this in many ways, but I find slowing and setting aside time with him resets my soul. So I’m sharing that particular way with you for this post.
I encourage you to take a few moments, before Christmas morning, to spend time away from the noise and busyness of the season. Listen for Jesus’s heart for you—what he desires for you. Allow him to probe your heart and help you discover with him some echoing space that has yet to be filled—and can only be filled by him.
If you choose, you can use the following guide, in part or in whole. Included are several questions. Don’t feel you have to answer all of them but select the ones that seem to fit well with how God is nudging you during this time.
A CHRISTMAS SEASON MINI-RETREAT
Begin in listening and being in the presence of Jesus for 5-10 minutes. As you do, be aware of what has captured your attention about the season or this day. What has been distracting? What has stirred emotions? Bring each to Jesus as you continue to bring your focus to him.
You may sense him showing you something or you may not. Simply enjoy being with him. How pleasant it can be to be with someone in silence or in the slow beginning of a conversation. Enjoy this time in his presence.
Say a simple prayer to ask Jesus to guide you in this time. Feel free to use this one:
Jesus, you are here with me right now.
You love me and you know my heart. I long
to know yours. You draw me, invite me, and speak
to me. Prepare my heart to be open,
to make room in my soul for you.
Ask Jesus to show you his heart for you during these moments with him. What might he want you to experience more fully in this holiday season? Or what might he want you to notice about his presence and who he is as he is with you—right now or in the coming days?
What shadows, or darkness, or heaviness of soul, do you sense he wants you to pay attention to in these moments. Be open to Jesus, the Light. Invite him to prepare your heart.
Read what is next in your ongoing Scripture reading. Or read one or two of these: Matthew 4:16, John 1:9-10, Isaiah 9:1-7
Notice the words or phrases that stand out to you or anything further that Jesus might be inviting you into.
What are you noticing about his love for you? His persistence in coming toward you?
How has he invited you to make more room in your heart and life for him? In what ways are you beginning to sense, instead of hollowness and longing, a more filled-up space in your heart with his presence and invitation?
Where else can you prepare room for him today and through Christmas?
TAKING IT OUTWARD
In the inward/outward rhythms of being with Jesus, we often discover that what Jesus has been doing inside of us as we spend time with him, we can then take outward into our spiritual practices and relationships.
Consider how Jesus moved within you or showed you something in these moments with him. If you journaled or noticed anything new, how does it connect with what is happening in your life right now? What are your insights?
What personal invitations for you from Jesus do you see about making room for others? What are some practical ways you might love or serve those you will be with over the next few days, or even in the new year?
Spend time in gratitude as you end your time with Jesus.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare him room.
Music for meditation: Prepare Him Room
Christmas story to read with family: If You’re Missing Baby Jesus, by Jean Gietzen