Years ago when I was in high school, our church youth group decided to go caroling. We made up several plates of Christmas goodies, and our leaders put together a list of houses we could sing to. The night came, and we loaded up into cars. Excited and looking forward to spreading a little Christmas cheer, we jumped out of the vehicles and knocked on the first door. As we heard locks sliding and the door creaked open, we began our first song. Not three words in, the door slammed in our smiling, eager faces. Shocked and confused, we placed our first plate of goodies on the porch and returned to the cars. The next house proved to be even less friendly. As we knocked and began caroling, we found our voices drowned out by rock music being blasted through the front window. House after house we were rejected one way or another. A lady rushed past us with a hurried apology as we sang and she jumped in her car and drove away. Another slammed door, a porch light being turned off and curtains pulled closed immediately after we knocked. By the time we reached the last house, all of the girls were in tears. We felt so rejected, so hated, and so incredibly discouraged. Who were those unkind people, and how could they be so cruel? With the encouragement of our leaders we skeptically approached the final house. As the door opened, we slowly started to sing. Our carol grew louder and more confident as the couple at the door stood smiling, and joy filled our battered souls. With little pause between songs, our voices rang out, “Hark the harold Angel’s sing…” and the couple stepped out on the porch and beckoned us to follow them around their house. We had just finished our second song and had just started “Silent Night” when we stepped into their barn next to their horse pasture. Tears streamed down our faces as we all crowded around the scene a young couple dressed in wool clothes holding a baby swaddled in a small blanket, shepherds kneeling next to the manger. I’m not sure how those visitors had felt those many years ago that had come to see the baby that would be the savior of the world, but after such a traumatic night, the warmth and love in that moment standing in that barn felt so real.
When our song was finished, the man who had answered the door explained to us how Jesus was often rejected. How he had a message so wonderful and amazing, yet people often didn’t recognize how important it was or didn’t think they had time. Just like then, today the same message of hope and love is available to all of us. Christ is knocking, but it is up to us to let him in.
This week as I’ve reflected on that experience as a teenager, I’ve thought about how often I’ve been too busy or distracted to allow Christ into my life. When I’ve rushed out the door without a prayer, when scriptures lay unopened for days, when unkind thoughts of others fill my mind. I think about times when my actions were unchristlike and my goals didn’t reflect the life He would want me to lead. But then my thoughts have turned to those times when I’ve felt my Savior’s love envelope me, when I’ve made Him a priority and turned to Him for help. When I’ve felt His forgiveness and I’ve allowed him in. I want my life to be filled with more of those moments.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
As we remember His miraculous birth over the next few days, I hope His example, His love, and the hope He can bring will carry us through our happy and difficult days. I hope we will welcome Him in.
At the end of our night of caroling, we noticed several of the people we had attempted to Carol to and been rejected by also standing in the barn. Many asked us to forgive them and explained that closing that door and seeing our sad faces was so incredibly hard. It turns out our leaders had planned the entire thing and arranged for those people to treat us unkindly. I’m thankful for those people that participated in that experience 15 years ago and helped us as teenagers to recognize our Savior’s love. Most especially, I’m thankful for Him, who so patiently waits for me, as flawed and human as I am, to simply let Him in.
From our family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a year filled with happiness!!