Blog #544 Innkeeper

Christmas Season Blog – The Innkeeper

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.  Luke 2:7

There you go.  The mean innkeeper didn’t find Mary, Joseph and Jesus a room.  Couldn’t that innkeeper see that Mary was pregnant and about ready to give birth?  Assuming it was a man, how cruel could he be – to put aside this young couple ready to give birth.

We really don’t know more.  This is the only verse (that I know of anyway) that mentions there was no room in the inn.  

Not so much lately with all the and so many more websites and apps, but in the past, we have tried to find a hotel/motel later at night and were sent away.  I don’t remember the town – someplace in Tennessee or Virginia. We were driving back to Connecticut from Texas after visiting our daughter. Every mile on the road was a mile closer to home. Yes, we could have stopped at 6:00 after 10 hours of driving, but if we could drive ‘just a little farther’ the next day’s drive would be less.  If we could get to 9:00 that would be three hours less on the next day (and maybe 200 miles farther). Finally – about at the end of our patience, we got off the interstate and into a medium-sized town (that is, a town where there should be more than three options for a hotel/motel. We stopped at probably four places – that were full.  “No room in the inn” for us. In those days before cell phones (at least for us) and before being able to find hotels quickly while in the car. After the fourth place, the ‘innkeeper’ volunteered to make a few calls for us – and on the third call found a suitable place for us for the night.

Yes, it is possible to have ‘no room in the inn’.  

Of course, ‘no room in the inn’ – doesn’t always mean ‘no room’.  Some chains are required to keep a handicapped room for last minute handicap visitors  It might be that stopping at a motel at 10:30 p.m. the might be able to release that saved room to non-handicapped visitors.  

Hotels / motels / inns are businesses.  If they can rent all of their rooms out – great.  If the demand exceeds the number of rooms – great.  That might balance help balance out the nights where there are only about 40% of the rooms rented.

Back to the Christmas story.  In Luke 2:1 we have: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.  I bet that innkeepers (and hotel/motel managers) would love to have that decree – EVERYBODY is legally required to go to their hometown and get a room.  People couldn’t be ‘enrolled’ just by going online and filling in verification of citizenship – they had to travel.

We sing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” – and seemingly Bethlehem is a little town.  But it is where King David (and Jesse and even back to Ruth and Boaz) lived. If we remember King David had lots of wives and lots of children.  So, when Caesar Augustus required the enrollment, there would be plenty of people that were traveling to Bethlehem.

The innkeeper did his best to find them a place to stay.  It wasn’t perfect – it was in the barn for horses and donkeys that people used in their travel.  Like the shepherds, the barn probably wasn’t pretty and probably was smelly. But, the innkeeper could make a place for the family.  

What about us?  Can we make a place for this special (holy) family?  (Of course, we’d be glad to put Joseph, Mary and Jesus up in our house.  We would sleep on the floor or on the coach). Can we make a place for an immigrant family?  Can we make a place for our estranged brother or uncle or niece that we haven’t seen eye-to-eye with for many years?  Can we make a place for the homeless this year? Can we make a place for the lonely widow in the nursing home that nobody ever comes to visit?  

The innkeeper could have said ‘no’.  He could have justified that in many ways – like he needed that space for the horses – the straw he would need for animal bedding – the manger was for putting in food for the animals – not to put a baby in.  Plus – a birth in the stables and a baby crying might keep the animals awake and that would not be good.

How do we justify being unneighborly?  Maybe we need to think about that.


Posted by Bruce White

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