Last Sunday and Thanksgiving Day, I volunteered to serve meals to homeless persons. Both events were held in downtown Indianapolis churches, one United Methodist and one Catholic. When I arrived at each church, thirty minutes before, there were groups of people waiting. Then when the doors opened, a steady stream of hungry people entered.
We served over 300 people. I tried to look at each face and greet everyone with friendly "Hi" or "Good morning." Some responded with gratitude but others didn't even look up. They just passed by. After all, they were here not to socialize but to satisfy their hunger-- at least for that day. I felt sad and wished I could do more for them.
Fast forward to Christmas in a few weeks. Imagine Bethlehem and Jesus sleeping in a feeding trough. How tired and hungry his parents must have been. How many people just passed by the stable, not even giving it a second thought? Think what they missed.
As I served up the meals, I tried to look beyond dirty, scruffy, and often toothless faces, and image us all, not here, but in that Bethlehem stable receiving love from the Son of God-- a love available for anyone who comes into Jesus' presence. Jesus will not pass us by but is always ready to meet us, in a barn or even a church dining hall. Where is Jesus looking to meet you this Christmas?
God, thank you for your faithfulness and willingness to meet us wherever we are. Help us not to pass by without looking for your love and nourishment. Amen.