There Once Was a House: A Story About Discipleship

There once was a young one and an old one. And there once was a house.

The old one was not so old, but the old one seemed old to the young one. And the old one owned the house. And the young one loved the house.

“Some day this house will be yours,” said the old one to the young one.

10981359_10100810748719908_1680198685706119874_nThe house was big and beautiful and it was home. And the young one imagined what it would be like when the house belonged to them.

Through the years the young one watched the old one work. When the house needed repairs, the old one would repair it. When the house needed painting, the old one painted. When the house needed a new roof, the old one would roof it. The old one was constantly building and trying to make the house even better. It was a big job.

“Can I help?”, the young one would ask.

“No…not until you’re older,” said the old one.

The young one grew older. And the young one watched people building other houses. Sometimes they were allowed to even help others build their own houses. And the young one became very good at building other houses.

One day the young one went back to the old one. “Can I help now?”, they asked.

“No…you don’t know how to do this. Wait your turn.”

And so the young one went out again. They loved that house, and they wanted to do a good job one day, so they decided to learn more. They built new walls, laid new foundations, and raised new buildings.

By now the young one wasn’t so young anymore. And soon the young one was about the same age as the old one had been all those years ago.

One day the not-so-young one came home. “I have learned how to build up this house,” said the young one. “And I know it will one day be mine. Now am I allowed to help?”

“No!,” said the old one. “This is not yet your house.”

And so the not-so-young one went off again. But this time they found their own land, and they laid a new foundation. And they built up good walls, and put on a strong roof, and made it big enough for all who wanted to come inside.

One day the old one was older, and came to find the not-so-young one. “Where have you been?”, the old one asked. “It’s your turn to come and take care of the house!”

And the not-so-young one came back to the house they had loved. But now the walls were falling down, the foundation was sinking in, and the roof had collapsed. And they had loved the house so much that they were heartbroken.

“You have to fix it!” said the old one. “You’ve always known that this would be yours someday!”

And the not-so-young one said sadly, “I’m sorry…but I have my own house. A house that I have built. And I belong there. There’s nothing left for me here anymore.”

The not-so-young one went home. And one day a new young one came to door and asked to learn how to build. And the not-so-young one handed them a hammer and said, “This is not my house. This is your house too…come, learn how to build it with me.”

And the house stood there, generation after generation.

Journey Through Advent – Day 17

Monks brawling in Bethlehem. Copyright, The Times of London

Monks brawling in Bethlehem. Copyright, The Times of London

When we tell and retell the most important stories of our life, we often find that every time we tell it, there are a few details that we can’t leave out of the story. Whether it’s the name of the hotel where you stayed on a honeymoon, or the hospital where your children were born, or what the course looked like on the day you got that hole in one. There is some detail about every important story of your life that may seem insignificant, but that you can’t leave out.

The story of the nativity, the birth of Christ, is no different. There’s one detail we never leave out: When Mary and Joseph got to the inn, they were told there was no room for them there.

 Have you ever wondered whether that was really true? Have you ever wondered if maybe there was room at the inn? Maybe the innkeeper had a couple rooms left, but he saw this unmarried couple with this woman who was obviously pregnant, and decided maybe he didn’t want to rent them a room? Or maybe, even if there weren’t any rooms left, they could have found some place for a woman who was nine months pregnant and about to give birth?

But they didn’t. And so Jesus wasn’t born in the inn.

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”.

The question is, when you tell the story of your faith, do you want to be the inn that closed its doors? Or do you want to be something else?

Scripture tells us that out in the fields, the shepherds heard the baby had been born. And they got up and they came to the manger and saw the new thing that God had just done in the world.

That’s who I want to be on Christmas Eve, and everyday. I want to be the one who doesn’t close the doors to my heart when God is about to do something new, but the one who hears about it, and comes running. When God works in this world, I want to be a part of that story. Like that piece of ground in Bethlehem, I want to be the everyday thing, that becomes holy, not because of who I am, but because of who Christ is. I want to be a part of the story.

I can be. And so can you. And so can we all.