The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Keeping Jesus safe

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! ... At that time I will bring you home ... (Zephaniah 3:14-20). 

My church hosted an encampment of homeless people called Tent City during December some years back. When parishioners exited the Christmas Eve service that year, they encountered tents, chairs, sleeping bags and duffle bags covering the front lawn. In addition to the hundred men and women living in front of the church, the nativity scene, with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, took up a little corner of the lawn.

The year before a prankster had stolen baby Jesus from the nativity set, so a replacement was added to the scene. When my family walked out of church that Christmas Eve, my 6-year-old said: "It's good that the people on the lawn will keep Jesus safe."

A powerful endeavor — keeping Jesus safe. Loving Jesus as a kindred homeless spirit who found no room at the inn. Trusting in the one who chose to live with little yet possessed enormous inner wealth. Knowing that Jesus found more safety on the outside of society than on the inside of tradition. Keeping him near, so others could hear his message of justice. Keeping Jesus safe, so others might understand his promise to bring both housing and a spiritual home.

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