There is a Christian tradition about the spot where Jesus was born. There is a church in Bethlehem that was built over the very spot where Jesus was said to have laid in a manger. It is considered so holy, that three different Christian traditions, Catholic and Orthodox, have laid claim to it for centuries, and now they all have monks that live there, and there is sort of an uneasy truce. The monks still, to this day, sometimes even have fist fights over the space.
Now, I don’t think that’s what Jesus wants for the place he was born. I’m not even sure if that’s the exact place he was born or not, or if it even matters. But what I am sure of is that we remember that place where Christ was first born. We remember it enough to want to know exactly where it was, and to keep that place holy.
You know what we don’t remember? We don’t remember the name of the inn.
Was it the Bethlehem Hotel? The Road to Nazareth Convention Center? The Holiday Inn?
We’ll never know. But, I often wonder if the inn ever realized who they turned away. I wonder if a few decades down the line, they realized that when Jesus’ mom had come to the door, they hadn’t given her a room. They’d given her some hay.
Now, if this was just a story about an innkeeper who missed a chance to open the doors to Christ over 2,000 years ago, I wouldn’t be telling it tonight. But this isn’t about what an innkeeper did 2,000 years ago. It’s about what God did, and what God still does. And it’s about what we do next.
Christ still comes into this world. Christmas still happens. It didn’t just happen once, it happens all the time.
Sometimes God knocks at our doors, and we are asked if there is room in the inn. And sometimes we look out, and we don’t really like what we see, or we don’t like what it would mean to let Christ in, and we close the door and say: “There’s no place for you here”.
But sometimes, even when we don’t really want to, even when we’re not sure we want to open that door up, we do anyway. And that matters. Because Christmas may be about the story that we read. It may be about Mary and Joseph, and the baby and the manger, and no room at the inn. But that story teaches us about more than just an event that happened centuries ago. It teaches us about opening ourselves up to what God is trying to do in us in this world. And it’s about telling God that, even if we don’t know what it means yet, there is room for God in our lives, and we want to be part of what God is doing.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It’s time to decide. How are you going to open your door to Christ this year? And how are you going to join the Christmas story?
Prayer: God, as we prepare for the most holy night, we ask that you will give us courage to open the doors of our hearts to you. Amen.