No room in the inn

In the Christmas story as told by Luke, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn.” As we move through this Advent time of waiting we cannot help but wonder why. We find ourselves saying, “Had I been there things would have been different.”

The truth is that after two thousand years there is still “no room.” And the reasons for the crowded inns of our lives today are much the same as they were then.

One of the main reasons there was no room for him then was the fact that they just weren’t expecting him. If the innkeeper had only known, don’t you know it would have been a different story?

And what happened at Christ’s birth was true throughout his life. When Jesus returned to his hometown, Mark tells us “he could do no mighty works there.” Why? It was because the people of Nazareth expected nothing.

And they failed to recognize him when he did come. They were looking for a conqueror coming on the clouds of heaven that would lead them into war against their hated Roman oppressors. But a tiny baby? In a stable? No way!

How often does he come to us unrecognized? Read again Matthew 25. He comes to us today as a homeless man or woman, as a lonely teenager, lost and all at sea, as a child who will have no Christmas this year unless you step in and help.

But the big reason, then and now, he was not wanted. The innkeeper’s protest was that there was no room. But he could have made room. We always find or make room for the things that matter most.

What about you and me? Are the real barriers our sinfilled lives? The knowledge deep down that if we made room for him other things would have to go? It is a lot easier just to say, “No room!”

But if we are saying it humbly, ashamed of the soiled conditions of our lives, then there is hope. Remember, on that first Christmas he came not to a palatial palace but to a lowly stable. And all through the centuries he has never despised a humble dwelling.

Soon we will hear again the good news, “Unto you is born this day a Savior.” God grant that there will be room when he comes.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he served as senior minister for 23 years. He writes a column for several newspapers.

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2009-12-10 digital edition

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