We are checking things off of our list: Christmas trees and lights, tinsel and ornaments, garland and mistletoe, presents, Christmas cards and fancy dishes for the family meal of the year. We are checking Santa’s list twice and ensuring that we purchase gifts for the naughty and the nice. Because ’tis the season and all that we are– good spouse, great parent and in some circles real Christian– is riding on this day.
It is easy and acceptable to spend what we don’t have in order to be considered the best and the biggest giver. With so much to do and so many needs to consider, it is understandable to forget Mary, riding on the donkey and the baby that she carried. Not born in the North Pole or helped by reindeer, the story of Jesus’ birth might night be as commercially appealing. Still, it is the story and even when not invited for personal, political or other reasons, Christ comes as Emmanuel, God with us.
This reality reminds me of the words of Thomas Merton from an essay titled “Time of the End is the Time of No Room”:
Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet must be in it, His place is with those 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 as persons, who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in the world.