20131224-112559.jpgA visitor comes in to the church at the 4pm service a little late–maybe only ten or fifteen minutes before the service begins; she hadn’t really committed to coming to church, but an urge had struck her an hour or so before, and she thought to herself, “if not at Christmas, then when?”, so she came.  

She hadn’t been to church in a long time, and though the thought of seeing people she knew and of doing something at not-the-right-moment during the service almost made her turn around and not enter the door, she drew a deep breath and stepped over the threshold.  

The pews are packed.  She walks further and further up the aisle, trying to find just one seat she could slide into.  Two-thirds of the way up to the front of the church, she spotted a pew that had only one woman in it; gathering up her courage to speak to someone, she approaches the woman, “Is there room here?”  The woman’s head snaps toward the visitor, “Oh!  Well, no.  My family is coming.”  The visitor quietly nods, and shuffles off.  Other “empty” spots are all already spoken for.  

The visitor ends up standing against a wall, no seats available for the stranger in the midst of Christ’s body.

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21)

Are we so concerned to keep familiar people near to us, and to look out for those who share our genetic material that we forget those whom Jesus himself has told us are of his own family–the strangers, the poor, the orphans and widows?

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