One of the villains of Christmas is the innkeeper. It’s no wonder the little boy who’s assigned that role in his church’s Christmas pageant did so unwillingly. On the big night the boy stepped forward to speak his part, “I’m sorry. There is no room in the inn.” Then he added, “But please come in for a cup of coffee.”
The innkeeper seems to get more animosity than Herod, the real villain of Bethlehem. Having been an innkeeper, I must admit, has colored my understanding. Potential guests sometimes argued with me about rooms, but if there’s no room, there’s no room. Joseph is the one at fault. He should’ve phoned ahead for a reservation and guaranteed it with his credit card!
The innkeeper really isn’t a villain, but an exemplary person of compassion. He did what he was trained to do — help people. He gave what he had to Jesus. The barn at least offered shelter. It was better than having the expectant Mary camp outside.
We, too, can give what we have to the Christ of Christmas.
We can give our money. Some may argue that they don’t have much, but that’s not the issue. And it’s true that God doesn’t need our money since he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. But giving is a God-given way to keep our hearts warm.
There is a natural illustration in Israel. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life, and pours this life south through the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is dead because nothing flows out — it constantly receives.
We’re either Sea of Galilee people or Dead Sea people.
We can give our words. If Christ is lord of our lives, he must be lord of our tongues, too.
Dr. John Howell told of a counselee who grew up feeling worthless because her father’s most oft-spoken words to her as a child were, “You are stupid.” It’s hard to imagine a father saying this, but it’s just as hard to admit in our saner moments that we speak cruel words to others — words that can sting and scar.
One lady had it right when she said she “tasted” every word before speaking.
We can give service. All of us have gifts we can use in the service of Christ. We may not preach like Peter or pray like Paul. We may not sing like Elvis or play like Liberace. But there’s some ministry we can do for the glory of God.
Methodist evangelist Sam Jones used to say that if he could have religion in any part of his body, he wanted it in his right arm so that he could do something definite for Christ.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the SiluriaBaptistChurch in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.