“Christmas Reflection: Have You Made Room at the Inn?”
Luke 2:1-8 & Matthew 2:1-11 ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook
Northwood United Church ~ December 24, 2017
I’m so glad that we have gathered for Christmas Eve together: not just because I’m a terrible singer and singing Christmas Carols alone would be painful to my musician’s ears, or because gazing into the sky alone and looking for the brightest star is no fun. I’m glad you are here because in our gathering together this holiest of nights you and I are ‘making room at the inn’ for the true gift of Christmas to be born into our hearts, minds and souls this Christmas.
Please know that I don’t want to take anything away from those other components of Christmas: the good food and drink, the presents, and all the merriment. I love them as much as you do as my bathroom scales will attest on boxing day. But these components, on their own, make for but a shell of what this day is really all about. In fact, when I think about it, that is what was happening in the world at the time of Jesus’ birth. The world was so busy, busy, busy that they did not, as Luke puts it, “make room at the inn” for Jesus to be born. The Greek word used for “inn” is something like a ‘guest room’ today. It is the spare room that some of us may have in our home that we use to welcome visiting family and friends. Interestingly, the word used for “inn” is the same word used for the Upper Room that Jesus used to welcome his disciples / his friends to the Last Supper. Of the many things Jesus’ Way taught the world, Jesus taught a way of welcome and hospitality and inclusivity. The world didn’t make room for arrival, yet his way taught the importance of this practice. And your ‘making room at the inn’ in your holiday celebrations for the spiritual component of this holiday is truly a wonderful thing because this is what Christmas ~ Jesus’ birth is really all about. Making room at the inn.
It is really quite remarkable to consider. This gift from God is one that each and every one of us can experience. We don’t require wealth or fame or fortune; we just require faith ~ the faith to know that God’s gift of light has come for each of us. In fact, if we were to think about how it might have played out in an alternate universe it would have been very different. Imagine if there was room made ~ a wealthy family perhaps, opening their castle for Jesus to be born. Imagine if Mary and Joseph were invited in to that ‘inn’ and no one else could find their way through the iron gates to enter and meet the baby. Yet, in our faith story, Jesus is born in a manger… there in a drafty barn, amidst the smelly animals, amidst the ‘cow plops’ that have been left on the ground. It’s an assurance that amidst the mess and muck of life, that amidst the ‘cow plops’ of life that (even there) God’s gift of light and hope will be born. And this gift will be born where all of us can come and adore him ~ ‘if’ we choose to make room amidst the busyness of our lives ~ ‘if’ we take the time to slow down and receive this gift wrapped in bands of cloth ~ ‘if’ we make room.
And that’s why I’m so glad that we have gathered together this Holy night. In Matthew’s version of the Christmas story, we hear the story of the wise men who bring gifts: there is gold ~ a costly stone that speaks of how precious the Child will be; frankincense ~ an aromatic that it burned in the temple which signifies the sacredness of the Child; and myrrh ~ a curative element which points to the healing gifts of the Child. Gold, frankincense and myrrh are given him, but there is one more gift that isn’t mentioned by Matthew. That is the gift of time; the gift of making room at the inn; the gift of coming to adore Him and receiving Him into their lives. I once heard a joke about the wise men: saying that if they were really wise they would have asked for directions and would have brought diapers and food! What did Jesus ever need gold, frankincense or myrrh for? He never used them in any recorded events in scripture. What he did receive and use from the wise men were the gifts of their time. All Jesus ever asked of anyone was their time ~ to follow him, giving their time in His service. All Jesus ever asked for was for people to make room at the inn.
So…thank you for coming. Thank you for making room at your inn ~ taking Jesus in as your guest, in order that all of our Christmas celebrations might be full and complete. May we make room throughout the year for the birthing of a God whose way is light, whose life is grace, and whose very presence is love.