the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2: 6b-7 (English Standard Version)
It’s Christmas Eve. Tonight-like Yours Truly-the faithful will be attending Christmas Eve services and masses across the globe. Families will be wrapping up last minute travel; last minute gifts; and any last minute cooking details. Tonight, restaurants and nightclubs will host revelers on the town. There will also be Christmas Eve celebrations in homes as well (I will be at one tonight myself). Stores are bracing themselves for those last minute shoppers that will pour through their doors throughout the day.
And don’t forget about the little ones tucked in their beds tonight thinking about Santa Claus’ visit to their house! Had to add that!
Tonight’s a special night for many-Christian and non-Christian. For those of us in the Boardinghouse-Hold of Faith, it symbolizes the birth of the Christ into the world; the Light of the Divine breaking forth to dispel the darkness that’s oppressed humanity.
However, let’s go back to that night as described in the above Scripture text. Mary and Joseph (according to the story) could not find room in an inn and were forced to camp out in a manger (read barn, or cave in some translations/traditions) for the night. It was during that time Mary gave birth to Jesus, wrapped him up in cloths, and laid him in the manger. Mary didn’t have the luxury of staying at some hotel or motel, and having paramedics come to take her to the local hospital where she would give birth in a warm, well lit, and clean environment; then to have Jesus in the nursery cared by obstetric doctors and nurses. Instead, she had the cold, damp, darkened smelly, filthy, germ-filled manger, which she and her family had to share with the other animals.
If we read the above paragraph in line with Scripture, we see Mary and family marginalized from the rest of humanity that night. Mary and Joseph had Jesus all alone that night, in the cold, outside. Like Jesus that night, there are many today who will be marginalized tonight, for whom he festive air of Christmas Eve is a million miles away. The homeless one sleeping in the cold streets, praying that someone will have a hot meal (and a home) for them on Christmas. The unemployed who had to scale back Christmas for their family in order to meet their bills. The one who will sit in a church tonight, praying for solace due to some crisis in their life. The lonely who lives alone and has no family-either by default or choice, looking for love for Christmas. Those in shelters and halfway houses wondering what this Christmas will bring. The recovering addict, looking for safe places to stay clean and sober for Christmas. The war-weary, looking for peace on Christmas. The one who may even be contemplating suicide, hoping for a saving miracle for Christmas.
All of these people-like Jesus-marginalized. Like Mary, they’re in a place they would rather not be, yet are.
God sent a marginalized Jesus through marginalized parents to the marginalized to remind us that He/She identifies with the marginalized. That God regards the humble and lowly (ref. Luke 1:52-53); yet doesn’t give two shits about “The Powers That Be” as fundagelical X-tianty would have you to believe. And God calls for us-to whom He/She reached out to-to reach the marginalized among us: be they in our family, neighborhood, church, job-wherever we are. For God wants them to know that they too are part of His/Her family. Christmas Eve does not have to be “The Night of the Marginalized.” It can instead be “The Night of the Included!”
And if you-Dear Reader-feel marginalized, please remember that God is there in spite of what you may feel; you are not alone.
(Image above by Me).