Christmas Eve Reflection 2012

Typically these posts are done ahead of time and I have them on a scheduler that uses a timer. But today I woke up really early, after going to bed pretty early, and while I was praying I read something that got me thinking. Now I can’t shake the thought – how often have I communicated that there is “no room at the inn?”

You may know that I work at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville. As you can imagine, things have been busy in the parish office. Regrettably, sometimes I let it get the better of me. Someone called on Friday afternoon when I was trying to finish up and get home. Add to that, three phones were ringing at once, and I let them get the better of me too. The third call was from a familiar parishioner; I was harried and probably very rude to her.

Today I am reminded, as we all are, that all guests should be welcomed as Christ. (See Chapter 35 in the Rule of St. Benedict for a direct quotation.) I take that pretty seriously in the parish office – and in life, I hope. Sometimes I fall short and Friday was one of those days.

2000 years ago, give or take, an innkeeper, very harried on a busy and overcrowded night, told some prospective guests that there was no room for them at his inn. We see how that worked out! Now his busy brush-off may not have been intentional. And goodness knows when things are full, they are full…. right?

All of this is a reminder that we must stop, look, and listen. (The link takes you to a beautiful post by my friend Michelle Francl-Donnay, on paying attention to radiant dawn and other things.) We must be attentive and we must be responsive in the context of our attentiveness. For me, that might mean letting one phone ring and go to voicemail, knowing that God is taking of everything, and pay attention to the person I am speaking with. For me, that is very hard to do – and in my good intention of trying to take care of everyone at once, I take care of no one.

So what can we do to welcome the Child who is about to be born? The Child who is born in us, over and over again? Perhaps those three things that Michelle reminded me of in her post, those words from my childhood, to “stop, look and listen.

If I stop, I might be more centered and more attentive, more aware, and more welcoming. If I look, I may see who is before me at all times, no matter how I feel – and then be more welcoming. And if I listen, I will hear the call, the call that should bring me to attention and not to frustration – and then be more welcoming.

Perhaps today we are all the innkeeper, in our various ways. What innkeeper will we be – the welcoming one or the the one who shuts the door?



Filed under Advent, Advent 2012, Advent Reflections, Christmas, Christmas Eve

4 responses to “Christmas Eve Reflection 2012

  1. Sue K.

    How appropriate as the guests begin to arrive for the Christmas celebration! When I was a kid, my parents often set an extra empty place at the table, just in case someone would be added to the mob at the last minute. If we had extra guests unexpectedly, the soup got watered down or we kids were told to take our meat last, after the guests 🙂 My mom always told us, “What if that extra person is Jesus?” I haven’t thought about those things in a long time–thanks!
    I think we probably all have enough room and enough food and enough chairs to put everyone at the table, if we answer the door and see Jesus in everyone’s face.

    • Christine C.

      I enjoyed your post. The line that made a lot of sense to me was how in our good intentions of trying to take care of everyone, we take care of no one. This is very true for me. Many times I take on too many tasks and end up not giving my best to any of them or anyone for that matter. This year I gave up some of those “tasks” that in prior years seemed important. Maybe all the sadness and tragedy this month both in our community and Newtown helped me to re-evaluate the meaning of the season.

  2. Sue – I thought of you and stories of your family as I wrote this post!

    • Sue K.

      I wrote my folks a card when I sent their Christmas gift and told them I am eternally grateful for being given them as parents and for the way they raised me. So much of who I am today is a reflection of them. Merry Christmas!