For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
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.
You may think it's strange to read a passage about Jesus at the end of his life as we celebrate his birth. But it's so important. Many of us love the story of the birth but aren't as fond of his life or death. We tend to have warm fuzzy feelings at Christmas and somber ones at Lent and Easter. One movie even made fun of this as a race car driver prayed to little baby Jesus, his favorite version of Jesus.
If you've ever read the Christmas story and thought, like me, you definitely would have made room for a pregnant young girl, whether you knew she carried the savior or not, it's critical we read these passages together. We know the messiness and danger of feeding the hungry and housing the poor and clothing the naked. We are even more fearful of visiting the sick, and especially the imprisoned. We have removed ourselves from young pregnant people in need, for the most part. I'm so grateful this time of year for our partner organizations like Beacon of Hope who choose to work with and welcome young mothers. And I always pray that as a church and nation we always welcome mothers and young children.
This Christmas, I encourage you to find ways to welcome the stranger, especially those with young children or expectant mothers, particularly the ones fleeing modern day Herods. Support or volunteer with Beacon of Hope. Call your representatives about refugees and migrants. If we find ourselves saying, "I don't know you," or "we have no room for you," I think we know we will hear those words one day spoken to us by Christ.