“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver. She gave birth to her firstborn; she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.” – Luke 2:6-7
“I followed the hugs,” the massage therapist working on me said. “That’s how I got into this gig. I never got enough touch as a child. I was the sixth of nine children, and there was just never enough to go around. So I followed the hugs. I made my own world of touch.”
She told me all this as she cracked vertebrae, manipulated tight hip flexors, touched my inmost parts with purpose and tenderness, as a mother touches her child. And because I was curious, she told me more. I found out this lovely woman—capable, skilled, smart, and employed—had lived in her car for a whole year because of the housing crisis in our region. She’d park on a quiet side street, after everyone had gone to bed, and be on her way before anyone was up in the morning.
“It wasn’t that bad,” she said, trying to temper my shock. “It was clean; it was quiet; just me and my dog. The hardest thing was maintaining my dignity. So every day I came to work, and gave other people dignity with my touch, and that’s how I kept my own dignity.”
This story ends well, for now. She befriended a coworker who lived with many housemates. They interviewed her, loved her—and since there was no extra room in their collective, they bought plywood and drywall and built her a room.
In three days, Jesus is coming. He is coming because he longs to get close to us. He is coming to follow the hugs. And to ignite our tenderness and compassion, he is coming as a most vulnerable infant. His first order of business, on earth, is to be touched, held and cared for.
Do we long for this touch? Are we curious about Him? Are we willing to accept Him, in all His need and glory, and make room?
God, thank you for the roof over my head. Now make room in my heart for Jesus to move in, wherever and however I may encounter him, so that I don’t miss Christmas.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.