An Advent Meditation

Two thousand years ago a working-class family from a rural country down were forced to make a long, arduous journey on the eve of the birth of their first child. The ruling government wanted a count of the people for the purpose of adequate taxation. So, Joseph gathers Mary up and they make the difficult journey to Bethlehem. 

The town is flooded with other men and women and children who had come for the same purpose. Every room that could be rented has been reserved. There is no place for this tired, temporarily homeless family to rest. 

The cramping pain doubles Mary over and she knows… she knows this blessing the angel had promised was coming. Now. 

And no one has room. 

Not for a homeless couple. 

Not for weary travelers. 

Not for an expectant mother. 

The world has no room. 

Tonight, I logged onto Facebook and read the heart-wrenching testimony of a childhood classmate who revealed her children rely on health coverage through Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP)… but WV has run out of funding since the federal government has still not resolved the issue. She and her husband, both hard-working people, now must pay a monthly premium for each child as well as pay hundreds of dollars a month for one of her child’s maintenance medications. Like most working parents, this is impossible for her. Her child is currently going without needed medications. 

I scroll down and see another friend in Colorado posting a news release which states Colorado mothers who expect to give birth in February will not have coverage if they use that state’s CHIP program. 

Anger boils up from somewhere deep inside me.  

In the days before Christmas the government powers rush through a tax reform bill which experts across the spectrum agree will disproportionately benefit the rich. As we wait for the birth of a savior, taxes are once again the driving force for a major world power. While children and mothers lose health care coverage, as they struggle to find a way in this Christmas season to provide medical care to their families, the powerful rush at a fevered pace to count their gold.  

Once again, we anticipate the coming of Christmas while the powerful shove the poor to the side. 

I can’t help but think about how the powerful had feared their potential loss of power—how the powerful had sought to destroy the coming Messiah. I can’t help but think about the world who had been so convinced they knew what the Messiah would look like that they totally missed him when he came. And I think about the poor, the lowly, the humble, the people from the margins and the outside who were the only ones to actually recognize the Savior… 

While the powerful of our world scurry to secure their places of power and wealth I am reminded that Advent is only partly about remembering… it is also about looking ahead. We look ahead to the moment when the Savior returns… but what if the Savior returns to a world so convinced they know what that will look like that they miss the signs written in the heaven? Like the people of the world Jesus was born into? What if the Christ comes back, bouncing on the lap of as stepfather who can’t afford to take his child to a hospital when a fever spikes in the night? What if the Christ comes back in the womb of an expectant mother who can’t afford to go to a hospital? What if the Christ comes as a child while the rich and powerful are more worried about taxation than children’s health? 

What if this is moment the Christ returns? 

Will the world find him room? 

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