Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room


Well known to almost everyone is the Christmas carol that bids: “Let every heart, prepare Him room.” It is an excellent piece of theology – drawing a comparison between the coldness and lack of hospitality found in Bethlehem so long ago and the inner landscape of our own hearts. We should prepare our hearts so that there is room for God.

I had some experience with this in a different way earlier this fall when I painted my first icon (in a workshop). The painting of an icon is also the creation of a sacred space. The painting begins quite flat. Everything begins with dark colors. The face will be a single dark color – flat without expression with only a dark line or so that indicates nose, eyes and lips. It is as if there is no space there in that face.

I have noted before that icons a build up from dark to light. But what I believe I failed to comment on was that this movement from dark to light also builds space. The icon gains a depth and a height as we bring light to the subject we are painting.

To think about adding depth to my heart – preparing more room than now exists – is also an exercise in adding light. How much room do I have in my heart? Is there room for disappointment? For insult? For injury or failure? How much incompetency must I bear in my heart? How many fools must I suffer there?

With each addition of space the heart becomes more fully what it was created to become. If God is to dwell there, then the heart must become infinite. God became human that he might dwell among us – but not to leave us as we are. God became man, we say, so that man could become god. This is His purpose – to change us from glory to glory into the very image and likeness of God. Thus our hearts are to become infinite with room for disappointment, insult, injury, failure, incompetency and fools. The list, of course, could go on but a blog is but a finite thing.

The heart however…

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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3 responses to “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room”

  1. Mary Lowell Avatar
    Mary Lowell

    Thank you, Father Stephen. I don’t think I have much room in mine for all that. Shocking to have believed myself a Christian all these years with so little room for
    “disappointment, insult, injury, failure, incompetency and fools.”

    God help my unbelief!


  2. Robert Bearer Avatar
    Robert Bearer

    Father, bless. What you are expressing here–if I understand correctly–is the willingness to receive dissapppointment, insult, injury, failure, incompetency fools with equanimity and patience, all the while thanking God for His goodness and grace in the face of it all knowing that in Him these things are being overcome even as death is swallowed up in victory and the darkness is given definition by the light.

    charis and shalom,

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