When I was very young, my bedroom was at the top of the stairs which led down to the kitchen. Our original home was built in the early part of the 1900’s. This meant there was a floor grate in the landing at the top of the stairs to allow heat to fill the second floor. It also meant voices lofted up into my bedroom.
Many of us would have memories of having to go bed while there was still company at the house. I also have these memories. Laying in bed, trying to fall asleep as my parents and their adult friends would visit into the night. No matter how hard I tried to stay away, I would be lulled to sleep by their voices and laughter. A place of comfort and security.
As I ponder this memory, I can’t help but consider those who have no shelter or safe place to rest. As we draw near to Christmas we may be longing for moments of the past, hopeful for a miracle, or seeking to let go or make changes. Yet there are those who will simply take a clean bed, a hot meal and warm smile. As we draw near to Christmas let us not only get caught up in the delights of the season but also in what we see and hear around us. Let us get caught up in the voices we hear, the longings expressed and the reality of our God desiring to come to us.
Unlike the guests welcomed to my parent’s table well into the night, Mary and Joseph did not receive the same welcome. Consider as, artist Scott Erickson points out, it would have also been family and relatives which would have closed the door in Joseph and Mary’s face, not just some strange innkeeper. Let us remember Mary and Joseph were not in the comfort of their home and within days of the birth of Jesus they became refugees. Consider all they heard and saw and endured. In this final week of Advent as our anticipation turns into excitement and creates demands to make it all perfect, let us remember God came (and still comes) to us in the messiness of life. This Fourth Week of Advent invites us to tune our ears to the voices of loved ones and strangers, of the orderly and disorderly, for we never know when we will hear, “do you have room for us tonight?”
May the doors of hearts open this week greeting the Word of God and fellow companions on this last stretch of the Advent path. Let us be attuned to the quiet knocking, the loud banging and the gift of listening which transforms our heart this week and always. Like my bedroom of long ago may the sound of goodness loft into our hearts and fill this week with peace.
For your listening and heart reflection as we journey in this Fourth Week of Advent:
Listening again to People Look East is always good during this final week of Advent.
Beyond the Moon and Stars – Dan Schutte
This Advent hymn is a story of journey. It calls us to listen for the voice of hope in the unexpected God moments of our daily encounters.
Where have you heard the voice of hope this season? Who has caught your ear and heart this season?
O Come Divine Messiah – Fr. Kent O’Connor has a good version with hint of Irish.
A French Carol dating back to the 16th century. This seasonal favorite is full of life and echoes our longing for hope and light to fill us.
What are you hoping for in this final week of Advent? What do you need to hear?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Friar Alessandro sings a beautiful version in the traditional Latin.
Dating to the 9th century this is the hymn of the season. The lyrics match the O Antiphons which mark the last week of Advent, announcing titles of the Messiah.
By what name do you call Christ? What is your prayer to Emmanuel?
His Name is Joseph – Sarah Hart
This song is written from the heart of Mary as she receives news of God with us and her prayer
What invitation do you hear in this song? Who are you praying for?
O Little Town of Bethlehem
This haunting tune is an invitation to notice how our God comes to us in the humblest of places.
Are we places of welcome? Are we ready to welcome the Light?
As this Advent Season enters its final leg,
may the familiar sounds of life awaken us
to the song of our heart and to those seeking shelter,
and may the sounds and songs of the season guide us
as our God comes to us in unexpected ways.
Photo Credit: Kraken Images