December 14, 2020.
In January 1977 when I began my ministry as a lecturer at Solusi College, I was accommodated in a tiny two-bedroom duplex on campus. During my transition from teaching to pastoral ministry, accommodations were a single room in the home of a young couple. Finally, the day came where I could have my own space. It was in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The Conference now had a budget to employ me and they allowed me to rent the smallest available apartment in town. As Karen and I planned our wedding, I knew that we could not survive in the tiny apartment, so I had to somehow convince my employers to adjust their accommodation plans for me.
The collective plan of the church members and I was that they would bring their own excess furniture to my apartment the day before the Conference President’s next visit. We simply put in the furniture that any normal home would expect to have. The apartment was gloriously claustrophobic! It worked! Five minutes into his visit Elder John Evert exclaimed, “How did we ever think this would be a suitable place to house you?” I had not said a word about the need.
Within thirty minutes we had “found” an estate agent who immediately “suggested” we go look at a particular single home (which Karen had already approved—please do not let the secret out!), and to the “surprise” of everyone I was able to move into appropriate accommodations before we were married. We finally had a place where we could raise a family.
The Old Testament Gospel writer wrote, “Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs” (Isa 54:2).
When we live alone, cramped accommodations work well enough. They do for our children in South Bend, Indiana, and Washington, D.C. But if we were to be blessed with grandchildren, circumstances would change everything!
Are we living alone? I do not mean that you do not have family with you. Are you expecting Santa to visit and place a present under your tree, or are you expecting the “Being born” of Mary, “the Child Holy,” to share your accommodations this Christmas season? If so, are you taking care to enlarge your dwelling so that there is room for Him? This Christmas He’s not in search of a stable or a manger, your attic or crawl space under your home where He can be quietly tucked away; He’s looking to each of us to place Him center stage.
Can we do that this Christmas?
If we do make Him our focus, then irrespective of circumstances, we will have to enlarge our tent, stretch out the curtains, lengthen our ropes, and make sure that the tent pegs have been driven deep.
Simply because if the community get to really believe that the Christ has taken up residence, there will be many who are searching for Him, who will come to stay.
Pastor Michael Pearson