Dear Friends in Christ!

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. [Luke 2:7]

“There was no room for them in the inn.” There’s something haunting about that phrase. It’s tempting to read it in judgment of an innkeeper who lacked the graciousness to make room for a woman who after long travel from Nazareth is on the verge of delivering a baby.

And yet, the imagery of a place for birth speaks most hauntingly when we turn the question of gracious hospitality inward.

“What good is it for me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 1400 years ago and I don’t give birth to God’s son in my person and my culture and my times?” Meister Eckhart – a 13th century Dominican monk – wrote those words long ago, yet they speak to my heart now some 700 years later. In this sentence is something gleaned from this Season of Advent that I can use all year long.

And the truth for me in such imagery is how crucial it is for us to see, to know, to be dumbstruck by the holy and divine spark that resides deeply within each of us. Love incarnate is indeed to be born within you, within us.

As we move towards Christmas, I want something deeper than simply pausing for a day or two to open gifts and remember Jesus’ birth – and forget the holy that is born in the days that follow. I want to spend some time wondering about how what I do, how I am can give birth to compassion every day. And that reminds me of yet another 700-year-old gem from the beautiful soul of Meister Eckhart – “You can call God goodness, you can call God love, but the best name for God is compassion.”

In the peace of the manger-born Child,