Sometimes Jesus has to clear out the temple in order to make more room in the temple.
Matthew 21:12,14 reads, "Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves....The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them."
It seems like Jesus is always teaching me this lesson in small and big ways. I know the Lord loves everyone, myself included, but there's something particularly important to him when it comes to me figuring out how to walk in response to the love of God. It has to do with becoming a person and people of genuine welcome.
In my neighborhood we have a lot of people who are poor and a good share of them have various forms of disabilities, some physical and some mental. Their poverty is linked to their inability to function at the level that prosperity requires. They can't compete with others and find themselves in need of help and support. This is true on all levels, especially relationally.
It's much easier to support the poor than suffer with the poor. Providing for them is easier than giving them a place among us. The awkward way our friends with mental disabilities force us to let go of our sense of public decorum or rituals of rightness, allows us to excuse ourselves politely from having to juggle moments of eggs and vases.
But when we choose the socially easy path, we miss sacred moments where the divine and the disabled touch. These are holy encounters that have the potential to reshape our image of God and one another.
I experienced this in our adult Sunday school when one of our neighborhood friends and fairly frequent visitors showed up to our small class with her hand made nativity set in tow. It was a cardboard masterpiece with all the normal characters and more, lot's more. My favorite was the wooly mammoth!
She came like it was show and tell and she had something to celebrate with us and the total lack of understanding of proper class flow escaped her. It was amazing how she found a way to weave her little hodge-podge of paper, plastic and twine into our discussion of the humanity and divinity of Christ and the biblical and personal benefits of the incarnation.
All throughout the class she interjected little speed bumps of insight that could frustrate someone who thinks the beauty of our togetherness is accomplishing pre-planned agendas instead off simply bringing ingredients to cook and seeing what God has in mind.
Sometimes the lesson is the class, not what the class came to learn. Sunday I was grateful for the truth within the teaching and as she closed in prayer. I was deeply aware of the message being taught by the little toy Mammoth in the manger.
Each of us is part of the story, no matter how odd, unique, quirky, broken or seemingly whole. We all are welcome at the manger of God.