Advent (Love): Room For Everyone

Oh, oh come in,
Bring your friends,
Bring your neighbors, Bring your whole family.
Oh, come on in,
There is room in the stable
For everyone.

When people ask me what Unitarian-Universalism is, I manage to include:  there’s room for everyone.  We sang these words at UUCG this past Sunday as part of the Christmas pageant in our Sunday Service.  The setting was the Stable of Bethlehem, and the question: whether dirty old shepherds and animals should be allowed in.  Joseph and Mary decided that they could all come in, that there was room for everyone.

Culturally, we are struggling with this question.  Is there room for everyone in “our” culture?  When we imagine “our culture” we almost universally imagine it with boundaries defined by words, beliefs, rules and laws.  Walter Brueggemann said in an interview recently that when we approach a question from rules, words, and doctrines, we narrow, exclude, become flat and small.  However, when we approach a question with images, with metaphors, we expand, include and become deep and large.

On this Eve of Christmas, I invite you to sink into the image: a poor man and woman relegated to a barn as the only place available to give birth to their child. This utterly unnoticeable event is, in fact, noticed–by shepherds who don’t exactly lend credibility to the scene except that they come claiming to have been visited by an angel.

I hear the story claim:  what the Divine is doing in the world comes in and through the most insignificant of things, of people, of events.  If we demean and dismiss the poor as lazy leaches on “our economy” we demean and dismiss what the Divine is doing in and through them.  A great reversal happens:  we who wonder whether there is room for everyone in “our culture” may find that it is we who need an invitation into the spaces and places that the poor occupy in order to really see what life means.

What does that nativity stable mean to you?  Are you inside wondering if there’s room for others?  Are you outside realizing that something really important is going on in there? The door of that stable can be opened, either way.

Bob Patrick

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