The Quixotic Pastor

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Meditation on Luke 2:1-7

There was no room. Absolutely none anywhere to be found. Not at the inn, not at any inn, no place where a weary traveler would normally go, because Bethlehem was filled to bursting with weary travellers.

There was a census, you see, a counting of persons like a counting of cattle, a crowding of nameless people brought together by the need of a foreign, oppressive government to know whom all it may tax, whom all it could press into military service, whom all could serve the needs of an Empire.

The Empire did not care for their needs as much as it cared for its own. No matter the human needs of individuals --the almighty dollar held sway then just as it often does now. So gathered together in that tiny little town were old and young, ailing and healthy, poor, rich, Jew, Gentile. Big families, little families ...

And one tiny family in particular, a couple who had chosen to make room for a most inconvenient child of mysterious origins. Mary said, "Yes --let it be done to me according to your will." Joseph didn't say much at all, but his actions spoke louder than words as he refused to divorce or shame Mary for her suspicious pregnancy, all for the sake of a dream, despite everything his society, his culture, his religion demanded of him.

Despite all of these obstacles, God Godself made room for the inconvenient child Jesus. In a manger, a feed troth filled with hay for the animals of all the weary travellers gathered in tiny little Bethlehem. It was in a barn: it looked like a barn, it smelled like a barn … and it was not the typical place in which a child would be born, but God made room there anyhow, in a place where usually only the poorest of the poor and the most unwanted of the unwanted would sleep.

But because God made room, and Mary and Joseph made room, it was the best of all possible rooms, made warm with the love of mother and father for child, with the Love of the One who is Heavenly Father and Mother of all of God's children on earth. It was a room filled with the light of people who believed in ancient promises made to them and were willing to make journeys based on that faith and hope. It was a room filled with the peace that comes at the end of a long struggle. It was a room filled with the joy to be found in new life.

For what have we made room this Christmas? And what kind of room are we making? Do we find ourselves like so many nameless cattle being counted by the store owners at the mall, seeking the very best Christmas ever in our search for the perfect gifts, the perfect meal, the perfect decorations, the best and brightest display of lights in the entire neighborhood? Do we work harder to have more to spend to make a bigger, better and brighter Christmas? Rooms filled with things, things and more things, because so much of the value we place upon ourselves and other people has to do with our ability to acquire things and to display them to others?

The story of Jesus’ birth tells us this, if it tells us nothing else: the best of all possible rooms, in this crazy season when people tend to gather together like cattle in malls and airports and can’t seem to find enough room or the right kind of room for themselves, is the room we make for love, a room decorated with light, faith, hope, peace and joy.

There is no better decoration to be found, and no better gift to be given. Amen.

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