(See the Gallery for accompanying pictures)
There are a couple of foreign visitors on Tiree just now, would you welcome them into your home?
The man is considerably older than his partner (they’re not married), she is heavily pregnant, and he is not the father of her child. Would you welcome them into your home?
Who are they? They are Mary and Joseph! Jesus’ parents, who found there was no room at the inn.
In fact the ‘couple’ in Tiree this Advent are wooden characters representing Mary and Joseph, following a Latin American tradition called Posada. They are moving from home to home and we are inviting families to treat them as if they were real visitors, although they need no food, and there are no extra beds to change when they leave. But the idea is to encourage us all to look at ourselves, how welcoming are we? Do we hold prejudices without being aware of it? And I pray and hope that it will encourage families to think about what it would be like if Jesus came to stay in our home, even for one night. The amazing thing about God is that He chose to come into the world, that is what we celebrate at Christmas. And He came, not in pomp and ceremony, but as a helpless baby, born to unmarried parents, in a stable, not a palace. God knows what it is like to live in the midst of the broken messiness of life, and He invites us to share all our joys and our sorrows with Him, secure in the knowledge that He understands and He cares!
I’d like to share this poem, by Lois Blanchard Eades, with you all this Christmas,
If Jesus Came to your House to Spend a Day or Two….
If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do?
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honoured Guest,
And all the food you’d serve to Him would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there,
That serving Him in your own home is joy beyond compare.
But, when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door?
With arms outstretched in welcome to your Heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last loud hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing and read the books you read?
And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you plan to go?
Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do,
If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.
May God’s light and life, and the joy and peace of Christmas, be with any readers of An Tirisdeach who welcome it, Elspeth.
(Rev Elspeth MacLean, Tiree Parish Church, tel 220377.)