There ‘was no place for them in the inn’ (Luke 2:7)


Sometimes our dreams do come true.  One of my confirmation presents was a book on cathedrals ofEngland.  I was totally captivated by the description ofDurham.  It was described as riding proud on a wooded bank, in a narrow loop of the river Wear. What’s more it was described as having a university nestling in its shadows. On these grounds I decided that, if I ever went to university, I wanted to go there.


 I was lucky enough to be admitted to read history at StChad’s College,Durham, which was a small Church of England foundation. It had been originally founded to train men from poor backgrounds for the priesthood. It no longer trained priests, but it still had a chapel in the back garden.  The chapel wasn’t much to look at compared to the magnificence of the cathedral opposite it. It had been bought from a 1920s catalogue for mission chapels and brought up by train fromNorwich.  The floor came from an old ocean liner’s ballroom.


Nevertheless that little building provided an amazing place in which people were nurtured, moulded and formed by God.  A whole generation of priests were formed in it who served as missionaries all over the world, as parish priests in challenging situation and as chaplains in the world wars.  It was also the place that helped me discern my vocation and a surprising number of my contemporaries.


God, of course is used to doing amazing things in unimportant looking buildings.  God chose to step into our human shoes and be born as a little child in thatBethlehemstable, because there was no room in the inn. The place of the manger was not grand; it wasn’t at all like the beautiful temple inJerusalem, but God used it to draw as close to us as He possibly could.  Christmas reminds us that God can use any situation and place to reach out to us.

Father Michael

Posted By: valerie

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