Thursday, 18 December 2008

there was no place for them in the inn: an image for an emerging church at Christmas

Tretower Court

she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  (Luke 2:7)

We ordinarily think that the place is full. Bethlehem is so teeming with people looking for somewhere to stay that not even a  Yorkshireman's shoebox (hello Python fans)   is available through That is why there is no place for them in the inn.

But what if the place was decrepit, uncared for, verging on the derelict? What if there was literally 'no room' available because there were no floorboards?

What if the owners had long since forgotten how to 'do' hospitality so couldn't see the need for guests or rooms at all?

And what if there was to be a recovered memory, a long lost manual for inn proprietors which was discovered tucked down between the  back of one of the empty wooden benches and the crumbling wall? What if that spoke of warmth, welcome, shelter, food, nourishment, rest and refreshment for anyone passing by or passing through? Heaven forbid, what if it spoke of takeaways, a stall in the market and home delivery too?

What if the essence of the whole enterprise was not-for-profit?

What if the secret to making the thing work was a simple, wholesome, nutritious diet of locally produced food and a willingness to gather and share with whomsoever; wherever and whenever the opportunity arose?

What if it was the table and the meal which mattered, and not the building at all?

Is there a place this Christmas for such parabolic thinking? Have we room for radical thoughts? Or are they to be consigned to the manger?

And if there is, what are the Kingdom of God, 'what would Jesus do' essentials that must  be on the table? And where would you put the table? And who would you invite, or to whom would you go?


Images taken at Tretower Court.

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