The door is left unlocked in the dark of night. Candles are lit, placed carefully on window sills. Each member of the family lies still in their beds, expectant. They listen eagerly for a creak in the hinge or boots on the floorboards, alerting them to a visitor's arrival. Will their risk to shine the light leave them vulnerable this Christmas?
Though it's common for flickering candles to adorn our homes in the modern-day, the plight of the 12th century Irish-Catholic was 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 for holy sacrament and an indication of a home eager to embrace Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
They were welcome beacons, bold statements: Light of the World, enter this place.
In the United States, we don't fear death as a consequence of our celebration. Lights shine brightly regardless of religious creed or practice. Though the ancient symbolism remains, our struggles are different. Could we be so welcoming, vulnerable even, to guests passing through? How about our own families?
What courage it takes to open the door...
With every "Hey, nice to see you!," we brace ourselves with a little brave. We've hurt one another by poking at the tender places, at times unintentionally and at others, with purpose. And in the oblivious and selfish mess of our humanity, it's bound to happen again this year. Sigh.
Do you ever just want to shake off this crazy skin and put on heaven? Me too.
But in the now, our hearts prickle with hurt and un-forgiveness sometimes. Memories of feeling less-than, unappreciated, jealous, or overlooked flood us with emotions. Offense takes its place at the dinner table and steals the joy. Anybody who has the courage to attempt relationships experiences wounds like that.
In all the gathering of hearts and opening of doors this month, is real question is this:
Will the peace the Light brings to our homes outshine the risk required to leave the door unlocked?
God only knows. So maybe we could just start by praying together...
This Christmas, God help us to trust that You are just and that You never leave us. Keep our hearts tender and remind us that You're our Protector. Help us to forgive and to let go of any grudges we feel like holding onto. And guide us to make wise choices when it comes to opening up our homes to others. Thank you for making all things new by the birth of your son, for making us new, every single day. Amen.
Crazy, 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
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.