“There is room for all at the manger.” ~ Beth A. Richardson
I ran across this quote this morning in Weavings magazine in an article on holiday grief. There’s something very comforting in the knowledge that every single one of us could crawl up in that manger with the baby Jesus and snuggle against him while his mother and father look on. Accepting. Loving. Soothing. The image of this idea would make a good sermon piece. As a clergy-preacher-type person, I can envision how this might bring comfort to those who mourn, are ill, homebound, or lonely. This image also brings me great comfort. This time of year, I find myself going in circles and trying to keep up with myself. Naps help. I had a three hour nap this afternoon that I believe was a catchup from this past weekend and a marathon of Lessons & Carols and outreach projects and home visits and pastoral conversations and cookie making.
Ministers are not immune to holiday blues. We try to visit those who are ill, homebound or grief-stricken and we come away a mite gloomy ourselves. Not from the visits mind you, because most of those I visit are quite uplifting in spirit! But from the sometimes overwhelming schedules as we keep our personal commitments to serve others. Some clergy say it’s a “time management problem” when others of us get that feeling of exhaustion that creeps up on us this time of year. I say balderdash to that. If ministers are not visiting those who are hungry, homeless, imprisoned, sad, sick or moribund this time of year I say they are not living into their calling.
No, I’m not saying every single one of us, people pleasers that we are, must overwork ourselves to fill some psychosis or unconscious need. What I’m saying is that the job of a minister is a hard life. So after all the baking, the shopping, the visiting and the church services, crawling up into that manger, resting in the feathery comfort of the lamb’s skin, is an image I will keep close. And this time of year, I am relieved to know that the hope of Christ will be born anew in every heart. Including mine.