Monday, December 26, 2011

The Innkeeper's Dilemma

Can you feel the tension? I feel the tension all around. Every day there are news stories about our dire economic situation. People are losing jobs left and right. People are also getting angry.

People are getting angry, and it is on all sides of every debate. We have tea partiers and occupiers sending out a cry of anger and frustration. One side thinks the other side is stacking the deck against them. Indeed they might be right. Everyone left in between keeps his or her head down for fear of the impending economic axe. The tension and stress weighs heavily upon all of us.

It is in the midst of this crisis, we hear that small cry for help. We feel stressed and fearful. We feel we have nothing left to give, and yet, it is at that moment we hear the cry for help. Will we help? Can we even help?

It is hard enough to be generous, but what about when you are stretched so thinly you feel you have nothing to spare? What do you possibly have to offer? Why would any one ask you? Is there someone else who could help?

Maybe. Or maybe not. You do not know the answer, but all you know is that you are being asked for help. You are being asked to be generous even while you struggle and need generosity yourself. I imagine that innkeeper looking into the eyes of Mary and Joseph. He has no more room in the inn.

He has no more room in the inn. He is out of space and resources it would seem. He could turn them away, but he knows that he cannot. Wait, there is room, but..

But it is not the room he would like to give them. He has room in the stable. You can almost imagine the sheepish look in his eyes as he suggests it. Will they even take this small help? They do.

They do take this help that he offers, small as it is. He did not have much to offer, but he offers what he has anyway. Little does that innkeeper know just what he offered.

And what about us? Our culture around us tells us that we have nothing left to give. We are fighting for scraps, it would seem. We are stressed, stretched and frightened. We are frightened.

We are frightened. If we share what we have, offer our help, what will happen to us? Will there be enough? We wonder if there will be enough for us, and yet God confronts our fear. God offers us opportunities to be generous even when we feel it would be foolish to do so. Do we still have something to offer?

Apparently we do because God is asking us to give. God asks us to give from our abundance and even in the face of fear. God dares us to give of ourselves, however small because it is not about the size of the gift or what was given or even to whom, but that we gave of ourselves. Maybe the solution to all this tension and fear is our generosity. Maybe when we give of ourselves, we help others feel brave enough to give of themselves. Maybe that generosity will also extend to how we treat those who stand on the other side of our agendas and debates.

I suppose this is a foolish thought. I guess it is quite naive, but then again, I am not sure God is so impressed with our sophistication. I think someone born in a stable is not that concerned with looking foolish. I think someone who gets nailed to a cross is not that concerned with sophistication. I think that maybe he might be concerned with how we love, and how we show that love, even when we think we are at the end of our supply. Maybe because he knows that there is always more love to go around. 

1 comment:

  1. Super post, thank you!!
    Reminds me of something Walter Brueggemann once wrote about how we are entrapped by The Myth of Scarcity

    Nice blog!
    Btw where in the USA is the diocese of Lexington?

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