No room at the Inn?

This month’s theme encourages us to meditate on the birth of Jesus.  As we consider the circumstances of the birth of Jesus, we are beckoned to contemplate how the birth of this Brown skinned Jewish child challenges us to embrace radical inclusivity and hospitality.  Unfortunately, many of our fellowship embrace an exclusionary vision of who is welcomed at the Inn, or in the church, or at the table of God. 

Part of the challenge of our faith is the iconography of Christianity. Because of the inaccurate and deceptive images that depict Jesus as a Scandinavian teenager, or a brown haired mild mannered European American, many remain ignorant to the historical reality that Jesus was in fact a brown skinned Jewish child, likely born to a brown skinned mother and a Brown skinned father.  With this fact in mind, there can be little wonder why this refugee family was denied a room at the Inn and why so many of darker complexions are denied access to the rights and privileges that they deserve and are entitled to as Children of God.

But not just denied, there is in this nation a conscious and deliberate plan to exclude Black and brown people. There is a conscious effort to dimmish and deny, to subjugate and to oppress those who are not of European descent.  Just imagine that in November, several states had measures on the ballots that would FINALLY outlaw slavery. And some voted against the measure. Just imagine that many officials intentionally redrew voting districts to EXCLUDE people of color, disenfranchising thousands of people.  Lynching was only made a federal crime LAST YEAR.

In this so called “Christian” Nation, so many that claim to follow this Brown skinned Jewish savior are bent on exclusion. We see it in our politics, we see it in our institutions, and we see it in our everyday lives of segregated realities. Many lack the imagination and expansive vision to understand the deep interrelatedness of all humanity, irrespective of our varied identities.  Many contend that there is no room for immigrants, no room for people of color, and no room for LGBTQIA folk. Preferring to live in isolated environments, there is no room for political and social differences or viewpoints.

As the people of God, we must do better. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that  God gave God’s only begotten son…” THE WORLD. Not the European world, not the Asian world, not the African world, not the white world, not the Black world, but the whole world.  Our challenge as believers is to understand that we MUST look beyond our own puddles, our own ponds, and our own pools to discover God in all of creation.  If we do not embrace all of humanity, we can never fully embrace God, who made all of us in God’s image.  

The challenge for our churches today is to dismantle the reality that our “churches” are social clubs that hear carefully crafted entertaining sermons about butterflies and birds and embrace our faith communities as sites of radical revolutionary discipleship and spiritual engagement. Our houses of worship need to be houses of sanctuary: sanctuary for the broken, the lost, the spiritual seekers, the left behind, and the left out. And our churches need to be sites of serious engagement of the spiritual disciplines that lead to a real encounter with God instead of superficial worship of outdated and inaccurate icons that promote a hierarchy of human value based on skin color.

Let this advent season lead YOU into a deeper walk with a God that loves the WORLD. How can you love God, who you have never seen, and hate your brother and sister who you see every day? The word says you are a liar, and the truth cannot be in you.

By Rev. Kris Watson

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