Advent Prayers, 20 December
O Key of David, sceptre of the House of Israel, what you close none shall open,
what you open none shall close: Come and free us from every prison chain.
The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God,
comes down the road:
if only you will shelter her.
(St John of the Cross)
The story of our salvation rests on a God who risks homelessness: a God who wanders the streets looking for a place to be born.
When Mary and Joseph set out for Bethlehem, they set out because they have no choice. The Census compels them: they must go. No one cares that Mary has been visited by an angel. No one cares whom she carries in her womb.
Mary and Joseph set out without knowing when their child will be born, or where. They hope that Joseph’s family will welcome them – but they know that it will be crowded, and that there has been gossip. Much may depend on who opens the door.
And sure enough: they are met with wary faces and closed doors. The Christ-child is coming, but most avert their eyes.
The truth is, when you are busy with a Census, God is not a convenient guest. The people who turned Mary and Joseph away had their reasons. They had their own lives to live. If the timing had been different … if they weren’t so very stretched… Then perhaps they would be more generous. Yes. They were sure that they would.
Our lives are not so different – our excuses much the same. We are busy. Life makes so many demands. When we are at our limits, it is hard to welcome the unexpected guest.
And yet, that is when God comes – when our lives are already too crowded, when we are not sure we can handle one thing more. God comes, and accepts where we place him: in the stable, in the corner, out the door.
God will accept where we place him – and wait until we find him there.
Today we pray for Nomad Trust, which helps homeless people grow in independence and self respect. We pray for all who find themselves wandering this Christmas, and those who provide shelter and love.
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