And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7, ESV)

During Advent I choose a Christmas carol or Advent hymn. Then I endeavor to sing, recite, and meditate on it daily. This year I chose “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.”

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

I love this hymn because of an encounter with Christ I had as a young Christian while singing it. I was attending a Christmas concert at Riverside Church in New York City. The music was not to my liking because it was unfamiliar and “highbrow.” I was expecting something entirely different. Then we all were invited to sing “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” which I had never heard before. My negativity zoomed. “Why can’t they at least choose a Christmas carol that everybody knows?”

As I was haltingly and half-heartedly singing and sulking the words of the refrain broke through to me, “O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.”  As I sang them I began to pray them, and as I prayed them I began to mean them, and as I meant them I began to long for them … for Him.

Something happened in me. The Lord answered. My negativity and critical spirit melted away to be replaced by thanks and praise accompanied by silent tears. That service became filled with the glory and presence of God.

I still need that transformation from negativity and a critical spirit. One of my constant prayers is, “Lord keep me from becoming a grumpy old man.” And this Advent I am reminded daily of the way God graciously answers that prayer – with the gift of Himself.

May you have a blessed Christmas, filled with the joy of the presence of Emmanuel, God with us – the best gift of all.