West Union United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Luke 10:27

Pastor's Corner


 Stirrings of the Waters*

(thoughts, observations, hopes, and/or movements of the Spirit 


All it took was the flip of a switch.  The light switch was on a wall in the office at the motel my aunt and uncle owned and operated.  When you turned the switch on, the orange neon glowed on the motel’s sign informing everyone that there was “NO VACANCY.”  As a rule, the switch wasn’t used until all the rooms were occupied.  On Christmas Eve however, at a reasonable hour – as determined by my uncle – the switch was flipped so that we could enjoy the holiday uninterrupted. 

We made the trek from northeastern Iowa to northern Arkansas each Christmas, where my aunt, uncle, and cousins created a holiday for us little kids and provided respite for our parents.  I recall the trip as a bit of an ordeal.  The highway was a narrow two-lane most of the way (the pavement had curbs which provided an exciting “wakeup” every so often, making the car jump unexpectedly).  I think it took twelve hours, although it seemed to take forever, and you had to wait for the ferry to take you across the lake at the end of the journey.  When we arrived, it was as if arriving at an oasis. 

Luke 2:7 (KJV): “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” 

I re-read the Nativity narrative and I remember the switch.  Never mind the lack of electricity for a sign two thousand years ago; there wouldn’t have been an hotelier in the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  There’s no innkeeper.  In the words of James Thurber, great American author and humorist, “You could look it up.”  Turns out this story may have had more to do with scandalized family members than overworked innkeepers.  Sadly, we often treat strangers better than we treat family.

This Advent, we’ll be retelling the stories of those involved with the Nativity story.  We’ll be exploring the scandalous details.  We’ll feel the fear, the hope, the disapproval, the anticipation, the uncertainty, the abandonment, and finally, the mystery of this birth.

My uncle was tall, sober in demeanor, and could be a bit intimidating.  Even so, I have no doubt that if someone had rung the doorbell, empty rooms or not, he’d have found them a place to stay. 

My prayer for you this season:

Lord, thaw our hearts. Gentle us.  Open us to welcoming not only strangers, give us spirits to love our families and ourselves.  Amen. 

Bless you and may you hear the angels sing this season: “Good news to everyone!”

Grace and peace,



*Refers to John 5:2-9, especially verse 4, concerning the pool at Bethesda within which, according to legend, when the water was stirred by an angel one might enter and be healed.