By Nell Green
It was a marvelous Thanksgiving. The house was full to be sure, but everyone had a place to rest, even the dogs! The table was expanded with an extra table set for the younger ones in our group. The fridge was full, the counter tops laden, the desserts aplenty. Were we missing anything? Not a problem! Anyone of us could hop in one of the many vehicles at our disposal and run to the store. It was a bountiful holiday.
On the Sunday after, the festivities were complete. Everyone was headed home. I was in the church parking lot to take care of a few things. I saw him from afar and could tell he was headed my way.
“Can you help me?” he called out. He had taken a book and a few snacks from an outdoor pantry box the church keeps stocked. He showed where he was sleeping under an awning not far from the church. “I need a place to stay,” he explained.
“Have you tried the men’s shelter?” I asked. He had.
“They told me, ‘There is no room.’”
We have an image of what that first Christmas was like. Joseph gets word he needs to go to Bethlehem. Mary is about to give birth, but they travel regardless. They arrive. There is no room in the inn, so they find a stable and Mary gives birth. All in a few hours.
Yet the scripture says Joseph left with Mary who was pregnant to be enrolled for the tax. This was likely a long, arduous journey. “While they were there the time came for Mary to have her baby.” (Luke 2:6 CEB) She gave birth and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn.
It may have been one single uncomfortable night for the couple, but it was possibly much more than that. What was it like for Mary to realize there was no place to bring Emmanuel into the world in some comfort with dignity? What was it like for Joseph to not provide and care for the child entrusted to him? What was it like to be homeless, in need of shelter, and to be told, “There is no room.”
Around the globe, field personnel are able to say to those in their communities, “There is room. There is a place for you here.” Whether a migrant on a farm in Immokalee, Florida, a person without shelter in the winter in Kentucky or a weaver in need of light in a Southeast Asian village with no electricity, field personnel invite those in need of a room.
The Offering for Global Missions provides for the presence of field personnel. Your gifts to the offering allows them to be present in places where marginalized and neglected people do not find a place and have heard, “There is no room.” As they invite, they bear witness to the baby who was also without a room.
It was not lost on me that while I was in the midst of a celebration of plenty, this gentleman slept under an awning. I connected him to those who could help him better than I. Yet I wonder if he heard yet again, “There is no room.”
Thank you for giving to The Offering for Global Missions. Because presence matters, there is room for everyone.