Today’s Mindful Advent focus word is: room (or hospitality or welcome — multiple choice today!). Meditate on this sense of room or hospitality or welcome — what does it mean to offer it, what does it feel like, when have you offered it or has it been offered to you?
In our Children’s Christmas program the last few years, they have depicted Mary and Joseph being rejected by two innkeepers before finding a place to rest in Bethlehem. This year one of the innkeepers was mean — we don’t want the likes of you here — and one was sorry but there just wasn’t room. Finally one who had no room at the inn offered them the stable — second best, but out of the elements and comfortable enough. One could imagine, as the pageant Mary and Joseph encountered each innkeeper, how those innkeepers must have felt – lots of strangers in Bethlehem, and only limited resources, what’s a person to do? Scarcity, and even perceived scarcity, brings out the worst or the best in people — there is not enough, so I’m just going to worry about myself and who cares about others, or, there is not enough, but somehow we can all make it through if we work together and help one another.
Is there room in our hearts, in our neighborhoods, and yes, in our churches, for all? And let’s not take the metaphor too far, and offer only the “stable” to others, begrudgingly saying, for instance, that yes you can come to our churches but don’t expect us to be friendly to those different from us (gay/lesbian/trans, old, young, different race, with dementia, on the spectrum,…); let’s offer the best of ourselves, in true hospitality.