The General’s Christmas Message

No room for them in the inn

by Shaw Clifton, General

babyEvery Christmas we are reminded of the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph and their baby away. We do not know his name, but we do know he tried sincerely to make amends by at least offering space with the animals.

Luke’s Gospel records, there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7, NIV). The main accommodation was packed out, due to the national census under which all citizens were required to return to their places of origin in order to be registered.

“Have you any room for Jesus?” asks the old gospel hymn. Poets and hymnwriters down through the years have found in this sacred birth narrative much to inspire them. They picture the holy family outside the inn, seeking admission, and find in that image a powerful metaphor applicable to us all still today. Another writer urges us to offer Christ “the best of rooms,” with the final words of the song affirming softly that “the best of rooms” is “the heart.”

Jesus still knocks! Still he awaits admission! Long ago I heard that knocking sound upon the door of my heart. I was very young, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt the identity—and even the name—of the One standing outside. I had seen the famous painting known as The Light of the World by Holman Hunt. It depicts Jesus with a shining lantern as he stands outside a door seeking admission. It is the door of my heart and it has no handle on the outside. Only from the inside can I open it and let the Master in. How glad I am there was a day when I did just that.

I wonder what would happen were the Lord Jesus to arrive suddenly in our midst. Where would he stay? Some of us would rush to reserve for him the plush, luxurious presidential suite in the best hotel in town. Others, not knowing him and thus unable to recognize him, might try to run him out of town. What about you? How would you respond? “Come home with me, Lord,” you could say. He would like that, but as you walk along together he would in all probability be saying, “You know, child, all I seek is your loving heart. Can you make space for me there?”

Can you? Have you done so? If not, do it now. He is the most gracious of guests.

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