“No room in the inn.” These words are echoing in my heart and mind today. They are haunting me. They are challenging me. “No room. No room.” I started out my day by reading a news story about migrant children having tear gas sprayed in their direction at the border. “No room in the inn.” It is the Christmas season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus. And all I can think about is his parents being told there was no room for them in Bethlehem. The Savior of the world was turned away. A mother in labor, sent to a stable.
I can’t stop thinking about those children at the border – barefoot, hungry, scared, desperate. And are a small percentage of the migrants at the border acting foolishly? Sure. But don’t pretend to know how foolishly you would behave if you were absolutely desperate for safety and security for your children. And we are the gatekeepers. We get to sit in our warm homes or offices and shop cyber-Monday deals today while real people cry out for help at our border. And our President tweets about them like they are dogs. Being born an American is a privilege that I did nothing to deserve. And no one in that caravan chose which nation they would be in when they breathed their first breath. I do not pretend to have all the answers on issues of immigration. I know laws and systems are required. But I do know this. EVERY SINGLE desperate migrant at our border is a human being, made in the image of God. And that baby who was born all those years ago – the one we are all celebrating right now – he came for each one of them. His mother, Mary, sang the following words about God while he was tossing about in her womb:
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”
And Jesus’ first recorded words to a crowd in the book of Luke would be these:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And today in the United States of America people who claim to pattern their lives after this Jesus will cheer “Build a wall!” and “Send them back where they came from!” and “They’re not our problem!” They will retweet the President’s accusations that the people at the border are criminals and demand that we close our borders to everyone seeking asylum from unimaginable circumstances. After all, our well-being is more important than the well being of “those people” because we just happen to be Americans. And all I can picture today when I close my eyes are those beautiful, brown-skinned, brown-eyed, barefoot, exhausted children standing at our border and being told “There’s no room in the inn. And we aren’t offering you a stable.” And I just can’t help but think “Do we understand Christmas at all?”