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Finding Room in Our Inn

by The Rev. Dr. Ron Sparks, The Community Church, California City

Ronald-SparksLike most of us, you may be asking, “where did this year go?”  Time to reflect, as we approach Christmas and the New Year, on the events and experiences that shape our life and ministry.

For me, this past year has been, unfortunately, filled with more negative than positive things, mostly in outreach to so many hurting people in both our city and outside areas. Too many funerals and not enough weddings, too many hospital visits and not enough social visits, too many tragic emergency call-outs (police and fire departments included), too many people doing negative rather than positive acts.  The list could go on and on. 

Most of these situations I could find resources to bring some resolution to; some, I could not resolve as I encountered barriers of closed doors, minds and hearts.

I remember that Mary and Joseph encountered such responses when they were homeless and in dire need.  The answer they received was, “Sorry, but there is no room in our inn.” One can only imagine the panic and distress they felt.

How ironic that the people most in need are often the ones for whom it is most difficult to find help.  Although there is much joy for me personally this Christmas Season, I must admit that professionally I have never experienced as much pain, sorrow and despair in endeavoring to minister to others as I have over the course of this year.

So, the connectedness of my own life and the isolation of so many I minister to has changed the way I understand the Christmas Story.  I feel and hear it in a new way.

Christmas is a difficult time of year because in the shadows of the bright clean malls and the sparkling lights lie the specters of pain and sorrow, poverty and loneliness, brokenness and despair.  One of the most important parts of the Christmas Story is remembering that Jesus was not born in a bright beautiful and sterile world.  God came to us in the stench and the poverty of a lowly manger.  Someone said it well:  “It is amazing that a God so great and so big could come to us in the shape of someone so powerless and small.”

May we, this Christmas and all the days of this coming year, reach out in love, hope, caring and compassion to those who are seeking “room in our inn” – the homeless and hurting; the abused and abandoned; the outlawed and the outcast; the sick and the saddened; the unwanted, unloved and untouched.  What better way to “keep Christ in Christmas” and to revitalize and make relevant the Gospel message to a ragged and ravaged world.

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