A door left unlocked in the dark of night. Candles lit and placed carefully on window sills. Families lying still in their beds, expectant and praying that their risk to shine the light won't leave them vulnerable to further persecution. Christmas.
Though gorgeous flickering candles casually adorn our homes in the modern-day, the plight of the 12th century Irish Catholic was considerably more harrowing. Facing fear of starvation, imprisonment, and even death, families shone lights through window panes as a sign of safety and provision for priests in hiding. The symbol was two-fold: an invitation for the persecuted to gather together for holy sacrament and an indication of a home eager to embrace Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
A welcome beacon. A statement: Christ, Light of the world, enter this place.
In the United States of America, we don't fear death as a consequence of our celebration. Lights shine brightly regardless of religious creed or practice. Though much of the ancient symbolism remains, our struggles are much different. Could we be so welcoming, vulnerable even, to guests passing through? How about our own families?
I wonder, what does it take to muster courage to open the door...
Our own families, we hurt one another by poking the most tender places - many times unintentionally, other times with purpose. Unfortunately, it's bound to happen again this year. At some point, our hearts will prickle with hurt or un-forgiveness. Memories will arise of feeling less-than, unappreciated, jealous, taken advantage of, or overlooked. Resentment or offense will attempt to take its place at the dinner table and steal the joy. Inevitably. Unexpectedly.
Any of us who have the courage to enter into a relationship will eventually experience a wound like that. We're only human, after all. The question we'll face this week, in the gathering of hearts and the opening of doors, is this one thing:
Will the peace the Light brings to our homes outshine the risk required to leave the door unlocked?
Only you and God can answer that question together. And only time spent with Him can provide the strength and guidance necessary to do it lovingly.
This Christmas, may we trust that our God is just. May our hearts remain tender and hurts be laid at the feet of the Healer. May we pardon others the debt of our un-forgiveness. May we grant Him the power to make all things new through the birth of a Savior. Amen.
Joyful, Courageous Advent,
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Believer. Wife. Mom. Writer. Marriage and Family Therapist. Accidental Speaker. Crossfitter and Total Book Nerd.
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