“O COME to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee”, we sing at Christmas time. These words are our response to the words in Scripture, “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
So because there was no room for Jesus at the inn, we say today that there is room in our hearts for Him. That is a suitable response, but perhaps we should look a little closer at this idea of “room” for Jesus.
In the prologue to his Gospel, the apostle John writes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Eugene Peterson translates it as “pitched his tent with us”.
Jesus lives with us, but when He was born there was no room for Him in the inn. Years later, a man comes up to Jesus and said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus’ response is familiar, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
There was no room for baby Jesus, there was still no place for Him to rest in His adult life. What then does the apostle John mean when he says “Jesus pitched his tent with us”?
For most of us in Singapore, we buy a home which is commensurate with our income level and our perception of our social standing. An HDB flat is something we get until something better comes along, until we can afford to upgrade to a private condominium or even landed property.
These are values which our society promotes and upholds, and even we Christians have imbibed them. I am not saying that we must all stay in HDB flats, what I am saying is that we should be more critical of the values and presumptions in our society. The most insidious is the presumption of the need to “upgrade”.
If we are followers of the One who had nowhere to lay His head, where should we be laying our heads? Furthermore, since 85 per cent of the population live in HDB estates, I dare say that Jesus’ “pitching his tent with us” in Singapore would mean that He would live in an HDB flat, for He would live like the common people do.
“O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.”
There was no room for Jesus at the inn; but is there room in our houses for Jesus?
What would our homes be like if we let Jesus into our living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens?
If we let Jesus into our living rooms, then perhaps our conversations will be seasoned with salt (cf. Colossians 4:6), and we will use our living rooms as places of fellowship and warmth and laughter. If we let Jesus into our living rooms perhaps that would determine the kind of television programmes we watch.
“O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.” I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen cooking, and also lots of time in the dining room with friends over a meal. In fact, most of our fellowship times, times of sharing and conversation, are over a meal. When the table is laden with food we are quiet, enjoying the food, talking about the food. As the table empties and our stomachs are filled, we begin to talk about deeper and more personal affairs.
Jesus in our dining rooms is Jesus at the centre of our meetings with others, whether or not they know Him. Meal times will then be occasions when the family gets together to talk (and argue!) about the day. Allowing Jesus into our kitchens also means that the food we prepare and eat should be healthy and nutritious, as a means of honouring God with our bodies.
“O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.” Jesus in the rooms of our homes means that we keep these places holy and sacred, places of utter honesty. Our rooms are our private spaces, where we think our own thoughts and do our own things; this is certainly “my heart”, where we say there is room for Jesus.
We let Jesus into our hearts, and we let Him into our homes. We say to the One who had no place to lay His head to come and live with us and so transform the places in which we live. This we do because the Word became flesh, because God chose to pitch His tent with us.
“O come to my house Lord Jesus, there is room in my house for thee.”
Kwa Kiem Kiok, a member of Trinity Methodist Church, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the United States.
Christmas Advent Service on Dec 16
TELOK AYER Chinese Methodist Church will hold a Christmas Advent Service at its sanctuary on Dec 16 at 7.30 pm.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon will be the speaker at this service of carols, readings, exhortation, prayer and reflection.