Having raised four kids at Trinity Episcopal, I attended a goodly number of Christmas pageants. I don’t rank up there with the clergy or the wonderful Charlie Rigsby in number of pageants attended, but I do have the story down pat. Yet, each time I hear the words, “there is no room in the inn” I can’t help but get misty. I think about all of the ways society excludes and wonder what does the Christ Child think?
Recently, I found out that one of my childhood friends experienced “no room in the inn” when she got pregnant in high school. She was sent to a “home,” forced to give her child away,and not allowed to return to public school. She was shut out, excluded, and shunned. Her story is one of thousands if not millions. I didn’t know it had happened, I had moved, but I wonder would I have been like a Joseph, (No. Don’t go there I wasn’t the father) but I considered myself a friend? Would I have gone along with the rest of that community’s, that church’s, and that group of family and friends who said there is no longer room or a place in our house? As a man, I’m ashamed that we treated anyone that way. It is an injustice that is worthy of my grandmother’s words — “good riddance.”
Where was the Father of the Prodigal Son when she needed him? Exclusion is one of the Devil’s most used tools, and while times have changed for the unwed, has it really? Our society is ripe with exclusion. You name it and we exclude on the basis of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, the list goes on and on, and in each case it is as wrong for those we exclude, as it was for my friend. We easily say to those who have made a mistake you may not work with me, live in my neighborhood, or even venture into public places. We do that without a thought to how minor the offense, how long ago it happened, or its relevancy to who that person is today.
Look around and you see the devil pit us at war with each other using exclusion as an excuse. He pits the house of have against the house of have not, and vice versa. He pits religion against religion, color against color, sex against sex, and every combination you can think about. This war of differences is as wrong as exclusion is wrong. Whenever, you hear suggested any form of exclusion your soul should sound the warning bell. The Christmas story is about making room for all God’s people, creatures, and creation, not turning away someone at the door.
Out of the blue, I heard from my childhood friend, and found out about her story. I cannot change the past, neither can she. But we can talk about the one house that is always open to her, to me, and to everyone — God’s house. God welcomes us all with open arms. He doesn’t exclude and he does not put us at war with each other. Any House of God that excludes has missed the message, the light bulb went out, and they have missed the team bus. God gave us that first Christmas morning a message. When you turn someone away, you are the one who loses out.
I apologize to my readers for getting on my high horse. The above is hardly a meditation, but a cry at injustice. It’s been fermenting for a while. My computer and I have been searching all of Bangladesh for the person who could help us. We found him — his name is Sandip. A few of you like to be notified when I post a new meditation. If you wish to be notified simply send me an e-mail to that effect at [email protected]. No this isn’t a plea for contributions my notification list is floating around somewhere. Even Sandip can’t find it. I promise to return to calmer meditations. Chalk it up to needing a cookie.