Monday, December 17, 2012

The Innkeeper


"Each of us in an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus." - Neal A. Maxwell.

When I started pondering the Innkeeper and what his message would be my first thought was negative. I mean, he's the guy that shuts the door on Joseph and Mary, right? But as I kept pondering, I felt something different. It was when I stumbled upon this message that my feelings were put into words. Jeff Taylor says it perfectly, and he has graciously allowed me to post them here...
"I had never thought much about the innkeeper. He is depicted in Christmas stories and pageants generally in one of two ways. Either he closes his door in the faces of the couple, or he shows them around back to the stables with the animals. What is the truth about the innkeeper? 
None of the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus even mentions the innkeeper. In fact, the only reference to a manger or an inn is in the Book of Luke. “And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke.2:7). On the basis of that single sentence, we convict the innkeeper of shutting Jesus out. Perhaps we have been too hard on him.
I think the innkeeper is an improbable hero. He had no reason to know that the strangers at his door were about to bring the Messiah into the world. Had he known, perhaps he would have made room for them, but that would have meant that some other weary travelers would need to be displaced. Yet, rather than making excuses, the innkeeper was resourceful, and gave what he could give—not a room or even a corner in his already crowded inn, but the stable that demonstrates that the King of the world is at home with the humblest of the humble.
The arrival of the long-expected Messiah stood out in contrast to peoples’ expectations. He did not come in a manner befitting of a king. No pomp and circumstance, no great earthquake, no thunder and lightning, no burning bush, but humbly and anonymously in a barn to a young unmarried woman. The Jesus born in those surroundings would grow up to teach us to believe the unbelievable, to be prepared for the unexpected, and that the poor and meek will occupy a prominent place in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Less prominent than even the lowly shepherds and animals, the innkeeper is neither mentioned by the writers of the gospel nor placed in the crèches that adorn our mantels and tables during Christmastime. Rather, he was and is behind the scenes, humbly and anonymously playing a major part in God’s great plan. He serves as a reminder to us that God uses what we have. Perhaps we should be more like the innkeeper.
Dear God, Give me the compassion of the innkeeper. Even when circumstances indicate that I have used up everything I have to give, give me the courage to stand out in contrast to the status quo, and the awareness and the resourcefulness to make room for Christ. Amen."  
Isn't that beautiful? I'd like to add that perhaps the Innkeeper was inspired, or prompted by the Spirit even, to allow this special couple to use his stable. There is so much symbolism of where exactly the Christ child was born, plus the fact that prophecies told of the baby Jesus lying in a manger - I think that this one Innkeeper was spiritually in tune enough to think of his stable because that is where Jesus Christ was meant to be born. 

I also found a story with a similar point of view at our library: "The Innkeeper's Wife" by Lynda M. Wilson. It is obviously fiction, but I love that it tells the beautiful story of a good woman who decided to help Joseph and Mary deliver their baby into the world. And it's written in such a way that it really could have happened. I mean, it was her first baby after all... wouldn't she have needed a midwife?

How can we be like the Innkeeper? When all of the worldly Christmas traditions threaten to fill out lives until no vacancy can be found, let us find a way to let Christ in. Find room for Him this season and all year round. Do something different. Add a new tradition or continue in an old tradition that allows you to take some time to let Christ in to your life. 

__________

For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.

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