"One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity."
~ Billy Graham
Reflecting further on the first Advent reading, it becomes evident that the foolish virgins were a good illustration of the attitude Dr. Graham describes. Why did their lamps go out? Because they had no reserve of oil.
And why didn't they have extra oil for their lamps? Because they hadn't taken the time to seek out the oil merchant. They had thought they could get along reasonably well with the old supply, the cultural norm, whatever had been passed along to them by their parents. They never made preparation for testing or trials.
They weren't hostile to the Bridegroom; they were waiting outside the Feast chamber just like the Wise Virgins. They had simply never made a personal connection with the One who could keep their flame alive.
Traditionally, Advent is a time for contemplation, but today we have made it a time that is so crammed with busy-ness that we don't even have time for family devotions. No wonder we are able to be so indifferent to the appeal of Christmas, to the invitation to a deeper experience!
This season at least, I am determined to clear my schedule enough to take time for those reflections that will replenish my lamp, so that my soul will still flame up when Christ is near.
Check here tomorrow for Redeeming the Time, the Scriptural springboard for the coming week's Advent celebrations, and then post, link and/or comment on Friday to share ideas for making these spiritual realities the vibrant source of your family's festivities!