This Christmas, Don’t Be Like the Innkeeper

This Christmas, Don’t Be Like the Innkeeper


Amidst the bustle of last minute Christmas shoppers, I entered the city’s cathedral yesterday. I was struck immediately by the nativity scene that greeted me by the tabernacle. It is a scene I’ve revisited for as long as I can remember and yet this year, something about its simplicity, struck me in a new light. I reflected on the simple stable, the hay, the donkey kneeling feet away from a new born child.

For the past week, I have had Brandon Heath’s ‘Just a Girl’ on repeat. (holler, all y’all Heath fans!) His song is sung from the perspective of the innkeeper who turned, as we know, Mary and Joseph away. When his wife asks him who has come knocking, he replies, “Just a girl. Just of couple of gypsies begging at the door. Told ‘em we don’t have room for anymore and closed the door. It was just a girl.” 


I think of the many ways in which we celebrate the season - with red cups over the Starbucks counter, with Christmas tunes interjecting the top 40 on the radio, and with the other flocks of people searching for the perfect gift at the mall. Where is Christ in all this?

As I gazed upon the lowly stable bed in that cathedral’s nativity scene, I thought, there, there is my Lord. Unmoved as people frantically run through the mall, and unfazed as we line up in throngs at the checkout, he waits for me.

The story of Jesus’ birth is a story we’ve no doubt heard as little children alongside stories of Santa and the tooth fairy. Christ’s birth in some ways, sits on the shelf beside children’s fairy tales, but if we had only experienced that simple stable bed or met those ‘gypsies’ at our door, perhaps we’d understand in our hearts the significance of Christmas day.

Heath’s song continues, “There was no robe, there was no crown. The shepherds stood on royal ground. The keeper wept for what he’d done. He turned away God’s own son.”

It hit me, that Christmas was not just an event that happened thousands of years ago, but a celebration that continues today. Who knows if the innkeeper really felt remorse after shutting his door on Mary and Joseph, but it still begs the question…How many of us are like that innkeeper, too busy to make room for Christ? We tell Christ there is no room and simply shut the door.

Without Christ, Christmas is like a birthday party without the birthday boy. Without Him who loved us first, our gifts are empty and our parties pointless. It’s that simple.

I turn my attention back to Jesus in the manger, to Mary who’s YES stands in harsh contrast to the innkeeper’s no.
This Christmas, don’t even wait for His knock. Invite Him in, make room for Him, and experience the deep, deep joy that Christ brings. He has come. The wait is over.

Pope Francis in his latest exhortation writes, “With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.” How perfect these words are for our Christmas season. Joy is constantly born anew. We have only to make room. 

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