" Is There Room For All ? "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
The Christmas story features the poignant scene when Joseph is trying to find shelter for Mary, his pregnant wife. He goes to the innkeeper and inquires about space. There is no room in the inn, but the innkeeper does offer space to Joseph and Mary in the stable. It is here, that we read, that the Christ child is born.
Now, hospitality is anything but stable in our world this year. Muslim families and a Muslim Iman are being denied entry into the United States. Police violence is still being waged on urban communities especially effecting people of color. There is political disdain being uttered for those who are different , for those who don't look like us, for those that some politicians would have us to believe are not worthy.
This Dickensian worldview uttered by some conservative politicians would take society back to the work houses and to the debtor's prisons. How can this ring true to the theme of religious charity, to the tone of " God Bless Us Everyone " ?
The birth narrative of Jesus does argue for a world where all can belong. Where you can have room for human beings, for families, for animals, for nature. Here wise sages will travel and present gifts to the new born baby. Shepherds will look to the skies to see the glories of the heaven and to hear the songs of angels.
Alas, we are not hearing that now. We are now being asked, with the appeal to national security, to scrutinize, challenge, question and reject "the other " among us. We are now letting our decisions regarding who is admitted into this country to be dictated by religious affiliation. Instead of welcoming the stranger among us, we are isolating them behind walls and barbed wire fences. When did it become civilized and humane to treat refugees as criminals ?
Leviticus says "the stranger among you shall be as one who is born among you. "You shall love them as yourself." What part of this message are the conservative valued politicians missing here ? Instead, we are receiving a steady diet of xenophobia, hate and smug self-righteousness that we are better than these poor unfortunates. We are even hearing politicians say that small children are not exempt and that they will be left to their own devices dealing with the corrupt tyrants, the modern day Herods of this world.
The biblical narrative argues you need to show justice and mercy to the stranger for you were once strangers as well. Funny how we have forgotten that truth in our modernity. At one time, in our genealogy, all of us found ourselves as refugees coming to this country from other foreign lands. Many of us came to the United States in order to escape the Pharaohs of our countries of origin.
The message of the manger, of the crèche is that all are welcome, all are accepted and loved, all belong. There is room for all in the community of faith. This is why the power of the Incarnation resonates today; God is Emmanuel, God is with us, and so therefore the realities of hospitality and acceptance and charity are extended freely to all- believers, unbelievers, nones, etc.
As we celebrate again the birth of Jesus and we ring in the new year, may we remember that we are called in the words of Micah, " to do justice, to love mercy and to humbly walk with God , however known ".
For those in the political class who would want to proclaim propaganda that excludes, derides, criminalizes and victimizes others because they are different, they need to be called out as orators of hate and not for traditional values and American exceptionalism.
Hate is not an exceptional value.
May it be so.