By Michael J. Brooks
I remember how angry the man was. He came to our hotel one evening with a confirmation number. I pulled it up on the computer and discovered the reservation was for the following night. This particular night was a sell-out for us, so I knew we had no rooms. He fumed and fussed and cussed, and insisted, “But I have a confirmation number!” He demanded I call the manager. I explained to the manager what happened, and he told me to give the man one of the yet unclaimed but reserved rooms. He said when the last confirmed guest arrived, I should give them a complimentary room at the hotel next door.
I don’t think this angry guest ever “got it.” His reservation was actually worthless that night, and the manager told me to be sure to apologize to him for his mistake!
One of the great villains of Christmas, other than King Herod, is the innkeeper. We customarily say that he denied Jesus a clean room for his birth. But if there’s no room, there’s no room! This isn’t the innkeeper’s fault; it’s the architect’s fault!
A child chafed at playing the innkeeper in his church’s Christmas play. His only line was, “There is no room in the inn.” However, on the night of the production, with the spotlight in his face and Joseph and Mary standing in front of him, he said, “There is no room in the inn. But please come in for a cup of coffee!”
The innkeeper isn’t a villain. He showed compassion by offering the expectant mother what he had—a barn—so that Jesus wouldn’t be born outside. The barn smelled bad, as most barns do, but at least it offered shelter for the night.
The innkeeper is a good example for us because we all need to offer what we have to Christ.
As we grow older, most of us gain a new appreciation for “stuff.” We have so much of it–it seems to multiply in the dark! This is especially true for collectors. I’m in a collecting club and remember a friend who has since died telling me he slept in his easy chair because he had so many boxes of stuff he couldn’t get into his bedroom! The rest of us may not be that bad, but we often spend our lives collecting more and more things.
This Christmas is a good time to consider a searching question: “What will you give for Christmas?” Whether it’s things, or a bank account of $100 or $100,000, we all have something we can give to Christ for Christmas.
The innkeeper, contrary to popular lore, was a man with an unselfish heart. -30-
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.