And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7 (ESV)
Let’s take a moment to imagine that innkeeper in Bethlehem at the time when Joseph and Mary were seeking a place to rest. What might it have been like to be him on that particular day? His thoughts, his preoccupations.
He could not have been busier. Bethlehem was bulging at the seams, under the weight of all the extra people in town for the census. He loved it when the inn was full and noisy and vibrant with chatter. People. He was definitely a people person. He did his very best for his customers – he cared about their opinions and their needs, and of course, his reputation.
It had been a bit unusual, but at the time, he had thought nothing of it. He had been in a rush, as usual. He had put them in the outhouse where he stabled the donkey and the goats – what else could he have done? At least it was dry there and fairly private. From the looks on their faces, it seemed that their baby was on its way.
Oh God – when have I relegated you to an outer room? I know that I sometimes leave you on the sidelines, while I busy myself with ‘more important things’ – juggling one distraction with another, as they vie for my attention and time.
Forgive me when I fail to remember that you alone ground me, you define me, you sustain me. Not the other stuff.
Quietly, tucked out of the way, on the edge and in the margin, Jesus slipped into our world, 2000 years ago. And now again, we celebrate God With Us, and remember His coming, this year – this strange year.
In my own life, I wonder, do I, too, say that there is no room for more of Him? Or is it that there is no more room for Him?
I allow these thoughts to tumble over themselves in my mind.
Have I dismissed the whisperings of something more, something bigger, and beyond? Am I too content with the little that I’m familiar with … the crumbs under the table, when He has laid before me, before us all, a feast. Like the innkeeper – missing the glorious significance of his smallest and tiniest of guests, content with attending to the familiar.
As in that most famous of all birth stories, God today continues to hide Himself in plain sight, waiting–longing, even, to be sought and found.
‘Draw near to me’, He says ‘and I will draw near to you.’ Perhaps we have drawn as close as we can bear, but then, again perhaps we have not…
Let’s determine to move over, make some space, place more importance on coming in closer to the Saviour – taking time to listen, to watch, to be awed, to be reminded. Not rushing away.
I will make room. I must make room.
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