December 24, 2015

Make Some Room at the Inn

The classic "reason for the season" story of the Christmas holiday is the one of Joseph and Mary reporting to Bethlehem to be counted in the Roman census. Being told there's "no room at the inn" when they stopped to rest, they ended up bedded down in the manger, where Jesus was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

Regular readers know I'm not a religious person; I will go to church tonight with my husband, as I have for the past few years. I won't take communion or anything - to me, it seems dishonest. But I will enjoy the peace and serenity and the traditional Christmas carols, including the one verse of Silent Night that we'll sing in German, a tradition at his Lutheran church.

History and tradition, wrapped in and around Christmas, as similarly the other seasonal holidays are steeped in their own history and tradition - not the same, but nonetheless important to those who celebrating.

I wonder, on Christmas Eve, how well we're doing given some of the common refrains we're hearing to today's carols. You know what I mean, right?
If you don't believe in (my) God, go back where you came from.
We've got enough fill-in-the-blank-with-your-pet-constituency now, we don't need any more fill-in-the-blank-with-your-least-favorite-fellow-man freeloading off of us.
If you want to live in America, learn to speak and act like an American. 
How well are we doing, when we want to 'return to sender' anyone who worships a different supreme being, or who doesn't worship one at all?  I honestly don't know where it is that I would "go back to" when the time comes for me to leave. And what does our country do when all of the doctors and scientists and professors and policemen and military members and athletes and musicians and everyone else are gone?  Who will do the work, and save lives, and cure cancer, and teach, and play football and basketball? What will happen to the fantasy leagues?

How well are we doing when the politicians who yell from our televisions and web pages and editorial pages and wherever else, the thousands of them dancing in the streets since 9/11, that we have enough homeless and hungry veterans and homeless and hungry children here in America that we can't take care of already, so we can't be the beacon of hope and light for the rest of the world anymore,  are the same politicians who work tirelessly to cut state and federal government budgets to the bone, slashing programs that could help the very same people they find so commercially valuable now? How are we doing?

How well are we doing when we rail against people from foreign countries, a very small percentage of whom may pose some threat to us, and at the same time we passively ignore or actively prevent opportunities to keep Americans who speak like us and look like us from imparting great harm on their fellow citizens, especially those who may look or act differently?

How well are we doing when we as Americans vow to restrict the rights of our fellow Americans, in the name of our faith? And when we confer greater rights on the unborn than we do living people? And when we're willing to take health care opportunities away from men, women and children?

On Christmas Eve, I have three wishes.

My first wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn, to welcome all Americans into the fold, to offer warmth, and food, and shelter. To offer help, and hope, and opportunity.

My second wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn for those who look to America as still the greatest country on earth, who reach out towards our beacon of freedom, and that we somehow can live up to their expectations.

My third wish is that the peace and love that are so present tonight on Christmas Eve and tomorrow on Christmas day will be as present the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Peace be with you.