Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reconciliation with the Least of These



Advent Concert Oslo Temple Corps Dec. 12, 2012

"NO OCCUPANCY" Major Ann Pender

Luke 2: 7 "... there was no shelter for them."

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

The innkeeper’s message was unmistakable: Sorry, but we don’t have a place for you – we’re full up - no rooms available – don’t have time for you- no reservation - our rooms aren’t ready - come back another time – I must check with the night watchman…
Advent Concert Oslo Temple Corps Dec. 12, 2012

"NO OCCUPANCY" Major Ann Pender

Luke 2: 7 "... there was no shelter for them."

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

The innkeeper’s message was unmistakable: Sorry, but we don’t have a place for you – we’re full up - no rooms available – don’t have time for you- no reservation - our rooms aren’t ready - come back another time – I must check with the night watchman…

No room in the Inn – hostel- hotel or whatever you’d prefer to call it, it was the first place Jesus was turned away from- the first of many. There was no place for him to enter our world, and his mother was forced to deliver him among the livestock, the cold and darkness – far from the romantic glow and halos reflected in so many rosy Christmas cards.

Jesus was turned away, denied a proper and humane entry into this world. It wasn’t that he was destined to arrive on earth among pewter and silk bed sheets in a royal palace, but at the very least a place fit for humans.

If you had taken a room in that little town and learned that the inn was now full, and you'd heard that a young woman, one who was about to give birth was being turned away, what would you have done? Would not most of us have offered up our own room to her and slept in a chair or curled up on the floor for the night?


There was no room for Jesus - the first of many times he’d be turned away.


Jesus was rejected
- By a hotelier who denied a teenager to give birth
- By Herod who wanted no competition for the throne
- By the rich young ruler who refused eternal life
- By His own in His home town
- By Peter, who denied him
- By Judas, who betrayed him
- By the chief priest, scribes and elders while he hung on the cross
- By one of the criminals who hung on an adjoining cross to the Prince of Peace!

We had a phone call last Monday here at the Temple Corps. The caller shared that there were many who have no shelter for the night, and “the weather is forecast to be -15° tonight”!

We have a beautiful chapel, one that we are proud of and delighted in. Look around - white walls, beautiful illumination, heat, familiar symbols, prayer banners – and with the cross in the center. 

Are we expected to provide space to those sleeping rough? For me it was as if they asked, "Have you room for Jesus in your Temple?" How could we say no; say there is no room? Or say, it's not our responsibility? Or, that we don't want to be disturbed? Or ought we instead to remember the words of Jesus; "Whatever you do for one of the least of these, you have done unto me."

Things moved quickly on Monday. Phone calls were made and within a few hours our worship hall was completely rearranged; dozens of cots, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, linens and blankets. Was it any less beautiful this way?

Those that were asked to provide a bed that first night in Bethlehem found no place for him. And there are millions of others who wouldn't provide a place for him. And countless others have answered; "I have no room - my life is full - I don’t want to be disturbed - come back another time - I have to consider the family first – consult with the board - the Safe and Sound authority...."

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:10-12 (NIV)

What is my answer?

I have no place for Him-  no room in my life – I’m not ready for Him – Please come back another time - Perhaps when I get older – I have to consider my wife and family first, my career, the responsibility to my employees…

A homeless king wanders onward, from door to door he goes and observes with sorrow the thousands of homes closing their doors to him. The first time they sought a simple room in a hostel for him. And since that cold and frightening Bethlehem night He’s moved between castles and slums, and the familiar, “we have no room” is often the answer as He's turned away, yet again.

He comes to visit you today – and at your heart's door He beckons… Will you too close the door to the Prince of Peace and turn Him away? Or will you say, “I have room in my heart for You”!




Major Ann Pender
Commanding Officer
Oslo Temple Corps
Norway







Translation: Sven Ljungholm

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

Martin Luther.

Former
Sweden

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased that you've decided to compile a series on Reconciliation. All in the office are following the articles and some even thinking of using them in their Sunday services.

SA Officer
USA

Anonymous said...

How poignant: the question continues to be, "Have you any room for Jesus?" Even as Christians we sometimes get too busy doing 'good things', & we may miss out on what the Lord is doing. The Sanctuary looked wonderful with the cots--no less transformational that the Sunday seating. "If you give a cup of cold water...a cot...a toothbrush..." It all counts, & it is all a way of making room for Christ, in our own lives, but also in the lives of those to whom we minister in His name.

Elizabeth
Former SA Officer
Can. & Ber.