The other day Ava was telling me the Christmas story.
(video only compatible with computers)
I have to admit, until my little comedian cracked me up I hadn’t thought much about the Innkeeper.
The man gets a bad rap. He essentially offered tent camping to the Ritz Carlton of his time for the birth of the Savior. Was he crabby as Ava implies? I don’t know and honestly I don’t care to debate the decisions or character of a man dead for thousands of years. The obvious is that he was busy. All the guest rooms were taken.
However, “no room” in the pretty spaces didn’t stop this man from offering place. Assumedly, he offered the smelly, manure-laden, cramped quarters amongst his animals we now display as pretty stables this time of year.
None of this took our God by surprise – He wrote the story – but in my humanity, it does me. When my kids have played throughout the house and I’m just trying to get laundry done I’m much less likely to want guests inside than when my life looks pretty and orderly. There is an element of pride that I imagine has been instinctive since the beginning of time. Even in the face of a woman about to give birth. I imagine even more so.
The Innkeeper said yes in his mess.
We all know how the rest of this story played out. Jesus was born in midst of ick and darkness and laid in the hay. What has been viewed as the Innkeeper missing Christmas has become the saving grace we cling to. God used this element of the story to remind us that He meets us in our mess. There is no life circumstance or hurt in which he will not dwell and give us hope. Praise be, say we who live anything but easy, sterile, pristine lives this side of Glory.
But if we look deeper, the Innkeeper can inspire us.
Sometimes people approach us and our hearts don’t have a pretty guest room to offer. The reality of our lives looks more like the messy stable.
How will we respond?
Will we turn people away because it’s not what we want people to be able to see and associate with us? Or will we say yes in our mess?
Recently I felt led to do exactly. I talked myself out of sharing the ugly a million times before inviting the individual in, putting my words to air.
And what I heard was, “Me too.”
Because of the Innkeeper we are reminded that good things happen in dirty places. Life-changing Hope. Life-changing relationships. Strength.
This Christmas we receive the gift of Immanuel - God with us.
And, we’re inspired to lay the ego down and welcome the other in regardless of physical or emotional surrounding.
Maybe the Innkeeper wasn’t so bad. He offers place, and isn’t that something we all wish for?
I kinda like the guy.
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