4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
I love Christmas pageants. I love the nativity re-enactments with kids in fake beards tripping on bathrobes and little girls trying to swaddle baby dolls as gently and hilariously as possible. I love the music—little voices raising up to the heavens as “Gloria” shakes the rafters. I love their tentative speeches and the narrator off to the side, our modern-day Luke, filling in the gaps.
One thing the Christmas pageant hits that we tend to gloss over in our reading of Christ’s birth story is the “no room in the inn” idea. We’ve heard the story so many times, this part whizzes by in the re-reading. But in the re-telling, the kid always pauses, deep breath, suspense, and whispers the words “no room” like it is the saddest thing in the world.
Many have debated the existence of an inn and say perhaps it was relatives that Joseph sought out and that the Greek word for “inn” (kataluma) actually means guest room. But the point here is that there was no space until somebody made some. Somebody, an innkeeper, an uncle, a kind stranger, made a little spot in a barn for everybody to get comfortable.
People always make the innkeeper out to be this stingy guy. The truth is, he or she, had nothing to give. It wasn’t a choice. But what little could be done, he did.
And this is what I remember when I watch the nativity play. Somebody made room. Imagine it. Midnight in a quiet town in the middle of the Judean desert. Doors locked and closed. Now is not the time for traveling. Now is the time for dreaming. But somebody wakes to the sound of knocking, answers the door, scratches their head, thinks up a plan, and ushers the couple into shelter.
Last week a woman visited our church. She is a doctor in a pediatric hospital in Africa and she is raising money for a new facility in a place where there are only three doctors for every 100,000 people. She is making room. And I sat in the pew feeling…ineffectual. There’s so MUCH to be done and my resources are so limited financially, emotionally, and mentally as I raise my family.
And yet, the making of more from little is kind of what Jesus does best. That was His signature miracle (water to wine, loaves and fishes, faith of a mustard seed) and it started with His birth.
So in light of the Christmas season and the phantom innkeeper, I am trying to give a little more—time, money, patience, hope, attention, and I am going to see what Jesus does with it. It’s just a matter of opening the door.
Sunday Thoughts Link Up!
It’s time for another Sunday Thoughts Link-Up! I know there are many out there with wisdom that could encourage all of us. As long as it’s faith-based, I’d love for you to join up and then read and comment on what others have shared. Please also leave a comment here. Think of this as a Sunday morning community group that comes to you. And grab the button if you like…
Sunday Thoughts Weekly Reminder
Sign up to get a reminder each week when the Sunday Thoughts Link Up goes live!
A big thank you from Jamie on The Mom Gene!