As part of my personal devotions the other day, I read a prayer that I thought would make an excellent Christmas prayer for any of us. It goes like this: Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
I love the imagery of the ‘mansion’ in that prayer. As part of my prayer of confession, I can ask God to purify my conscience – that is, to make the slate clean once again – that Jesus, whose advent we celebrate, would find a home in us!
When we think of Jesus’ coming, we tend to think either of his birth, where he was laid in a manger, or of his return, where he will come to rule the earth. This prayer gives us another way of thinking about Jesus’ coming: he is coming to live in us.
This image makes sense, doesn’t it? This is a time of year for receiving company, and if you’re like me, you find yourself madly rushing to get the house tidied up before company arrives, because you want your home to appear at its best when your guests arrive. Now, most gracious guests will say that they come to see us, not our houses, but when we’ve been guests, even gracious ones, in our minds we still think that it’s nicer to be received in a clean house.
Wouldn’t we want that for Jesus? Wouldn’t we want him to have a nice, clean place to live – in our hearts? Believe me, this is not about keeping up appearances. This is not about having the best hardwood floors and the fewest dust bunnies. This is about welcoming the Lord in our lives with hearts that are ready to receive him.
When the mud of sin is tracked through the mansion of my heart, it oversteps Jesus’ welcome. When, by confession to God, that mud is cleaned up and cleared out, Jesus has a perfect place to live, a mansion prepared for him. And when we confess daily, as the prayer suggests (“by your daily visitation”), there’s always a welcome place for Jesus in our lives.
“She (Mary) gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2.7, NLT).
As we celebrate his coming, celebrate his coming in your heart. May your celebration be filled with joy!