No Room at the Inn
Often when the story of the birth of Jesus is told, the innkeeper is given a bad rap. He turned Mary and Joseph away because there was no room at the inn. But the scriptures do not say the Innkeeper himself was hard-hearted or insensitive to the pregnant Mary. After all, we need to remember that he did allow Joseph and Mary to stay in the stable, or at least we often assume the stable was connected to the inn. Maybe it wasn’t the absolute best that he could do. But at least he did something. And that counts.
Still it is sad that he wasn’t able to provide them with one of the best rooms in his establishment. Apparently, it was a busy time in Bethlehem and accommodations are not always available, as many of us know from personal experience. Still by allowing them a place in the stable at least they had a roof over their heads the night Jesus was born. But giving birth while surrounded by animals was far from pleasant.
Perhaps the innkeeper could have done more. But he would have had to reshuffle his priorities. Perhaps he would have had to inconvenience some other customers, risking their anger, so that Mary would have been able to bring Jesus into the world in a more comfortable setting. Clearly, that was something he was not willing to do.
Regardless, we need to be slow to condemn the innkeeper. If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that we have not always done all that we could have done to help others in need. Sure, we can’t do everything. We see more needs
than we have the resources to meet. But sometimes we close our eyes to needs we actually could have helped. Sometimes we just don’t feel like helping someone in need for any number of reasons. We make excuses for ourselves.
We rejoice that Jesus came into the world. We love to hear the story of his birth. Jesus is God’s greatest gift to a world in darkness and sin. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). May we model our love, not according to the innkeeper, but according to the love of God we see in Jesus, a love that makes the needs of those who are hurting a priority. Let us celebrate Christmas by loving like Jesus.
Grace and Peace,