She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 The scripture doesn’t say there was no room at all in the inn. It says there was no room for them. The inn may have been completely full. Perhaps the owner was turning people away for hours before Mary and Joseph showed up. Or maybe Joseph and Mary didn’t have enough money to pay for a bed. Perhaps the spaces were being saved for more affluent clientele.
Maybe they had money but were discriminated against. Mary and Joseph were from out of town, maybe they had a different accent or dialect, and if they arrived after dark, the innkeeper didn’t like the look of them. Or maybe there were rumors going around about Mary being pregnant out-of-wedlock, and the innkeeper didn’t want to give accommodations to people like that. Or maybe it was simply the fact that they needed help that made them unwelcome. Mary was about to give birth. She could've been in labor already when they knocked on the innkeeper’s door. Sometimes people just don’t want to deal with somebody else who’s in crisis. Don’t bring your needs and your issues in here. We’ve got enough problems without adding yours to the mix. Whatever the reasons, Mary and Joseph were turned away. They were literally left out in the cold. So Jesus was born an outsider. The holy family was met and encouraged that night by other outsiders, people who were used to sleeping in the cold, used to the humble life. The shepherds could see something the innkeeper couldn’t – God’s care for the down-and-out. This is the frame of mind required of you and I, if we really want to draw near to the newborn Jesus at Christmas. He is shut out. His family is excluded. He has nothing to his name, but God’s grace. He is the vulnerable, the penniless, the vagabond. We will know him, really know him, in bonds of friendship with the poor. We will adore him with acts of benevolence toward the hungry, the sick, the stranger, the imprisoned. We will honor and serve him in our empathy and generosity with the abused and the outcast. Keeping Christ in Christmas means doing Christmas with the outsiders.
The Table is a Christian church in Davenport, Iowa, pursuing transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Christmas Eve Service:
Saturday, Dec. 24, 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport, Iowa 52803