Written for Advent Worship for the UCC in Wallace, ID
Tradition has an opinion about where Jesus was born, but all the Gospel writers tell us is that there was no place for them in the inn. That leaves us free to imagine the specifics. Where do you think the nativity is set? A barn, a shed, maybe even a cave? The chicken coop, horse stall, hay barn? The place out back where no one else will stay? The cluttered garage where boxes can be tossed out of the way, tires stacked, bikes rearranged, enough space cleared for the couple to get off their feet and out of the night?
I read in a short story of a woman who offered hospitality to a homeless man by letting him sleep under her porch. When I arrived at the book club and launched my indignation by proclaiming that under the porch bears no resemblance to hospitality, the woman beside me said she’d done that, given a homeless person permission to lie down and sleep. I quietly wondered what I’d ever offered anyone in need of a place to get off their feet and out of the night.
A place of shelter and respite. An opening from which to extend kindness. An empty space where world weary travelers can rest and a new life begin. What do we need to clear away, free up, make available if we seek to invite God in and create a home for love?