A family of humble origins.
Not from around around here.
Don't think they're royalty.
Doubt they're rich.
Some sort of non-traditional family.
Are they homeless?
They don't belong here.
It's hard for me to read the Christmas passages without imagining a come-from-behind story. This isn't a winner sweep. There's no Triple Crown here. We're talking about an unlikely winner, a child and out-of-towners.
They didn't belong. They didn't fit in.
One focus of this Christmas is to examine in my heart if I am welcoming this family into my life. Do I reject them and their family? Do I separate them, like we do immigrants in this country?
Have I made mistakes in the past? Sure. Just a few days ago, I forgot who I wanted to be and remembered once more how much effort it takes to live out the life Christ demanded.
My mind was distracted by a Christmas shopping rush slamming against a busy work day. I had only a sliver of time to grab a meal before going on to my next meeting. I ran into a local eatery and grabbed a meal which I was wolfing it down.
A gentleman of seemingly modest means asked if I would mind buying him lunch. In my rush, I shook my head and grumbled that I was late and I had to get going. I might have even growled and rolled my eyes.
He disappeared, before I realized what I had done. I searched the restaurant, the parking lot, the nearby bus stop. He was gone. I chased him away with my cold, uncaring heart.
We were two blocks from Union Station Homeless Services, a place I lavish time and donations to support, and yet here, in my self-focus, my self-importance, my me-first attitude, here I sat, food in hand, heart like a stone in my stomach. I spend countless hours helping and trying to help, and yet with a couple painful words trample on the life I was trying to nurture.
I turned away a simple, honest request for mercy. I sent him away to his manger.
I ran to my car and wept.
If I could redo those precious moments once more, the story line would have been different. That man would have gotten a warm meal. I wouldn't have dismissed his presence with my rush. My anxiety and attention to my life would not blind me to the hunger in another. If only I could relive that moment.
Lord, grant me the breath and space to see cracks of light in the darkness of my blinders, that I might see the ones in need, that I might see the potential of greatness, that I might be the welcoming embodiment of warmth, spirit, and life.