Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
His place is with the others for whom
there is no room.
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power, because
they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed and exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.
– Thomas Merton
We can build walls, we can arm soldiers, we can dispatch drones, and we can spread hate – all with alarming ease, almost as simple as asking Siri or Alexa to carry out our will. That is one thing about voice activated technology that alarms me, we might believe ourselves to be more omnipotent that our inflated egos already do believe. Simply saying “do this” or “change that” to an inanimate object and having it carried out is chilling to me.
We can never truly lock love out, and of that I am firmly convinced. Love comes down and in at this time in the most powerful and incarnational way. Christmas is the inbreaking of the Spirit into our world, in a most human and simple way. Add to that the fact that no one was all that interested in opening their doors to the young couple in need. Today they might find themselves the object of an armed law enforcement encounter, because they were of dark skin and randomly knocking on doors seeking shelter for a woman soon to be with child. (And they were of dark skin, no matter how many Western looking Jesus and Mary images we grew up with.)
When I find myself fiercely resisting another I must ask (and yes Edgar, I’m talking to you directly now) what God wishes for me to see and how God wishes me to welcome this person. You can ask Edgar about how welcoming I am, with his persistent line of political questioning via the comments at the Times Union edition of my blog. I do not want to open the door for him, but I do try to answer. Frankly, it is not enough. I can’t change him any more than I can change anyone else. It is I who must change.
And that’s what the arrival of this child does. Like an experiment with a very clear and distinct outcome, the child is born in the worst place at the worst time to two unknown and probably pretty poor people. No one wanted to give them a room, so they slept among the animals in the filthy stable. Oh, we’ve prettied that up too, with our finely made Italian creche scenes, so lovingly tended to in our warm, clean homes, places befitting that blonde haired-blue eyed Jesus and Mary.
Of course Jesus can be seen as all – from blond and fair to brown and dark. Jesus is all of our humanity in divine form. But do we see him that way, or do we rush to make him our own with our vision, and not with God’s eye?
Who will we welcome this Christmas? Will we be seated with loved ones hoping that the conversation does not turn political? Wondering how the meal can be saved from the ever loudening argument about closed borders and foreign freeloaders or whatever hot button topics might come up?
It is in the midst of those encounters, heated as they are, that Christ crowns and pushes his way down the birth canal into our own lives and hearts. It’s a painful and messy business, childbirth is. So I am told, anyway! Can we bear the pains of labor and delivery so that we might grow a world into love? Tearing down walls, rejecting arms and borders, drones and guns, hatred and vitriol, can we unite around this poor child?
That is what we are called to do as the demented inn of our heart opens for the season. Will there be room? Can we do this? Will you join me? I cannot do it alone. All are needed in Christ.