By, Rev. Howard C. Earle, Jr., D.Min.
Some years ago, I eagerly anticipated a blockbuster movie release. Another fun fact about me; I am a movie buff. Prior to COVID, I was in the movie theater at least 3 times a month. Every Monday I would choose a movie, purchase my pop, popcorn and hotdog and enjoy. On one of my cinematic adventures, I arrived at the theatre in what I thought was ample time to get a good seat, but I was mistaken. To my shock and disappointment, my movie was SOLD OUT, meaning, there were no more available seats. The theater was filled to capacity and there was no more room for any more viewers.
I suppose a sold-out show is good for business, but it certainly wasn’t good for me as a potential customer. A central element to the birth of Jesus was a sold-out inn. The scriptures and the songs of the season tell his Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Due to the census ordered by Caesar Augustus, Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem. Perhaps any other time they would not have had any trouble finding lodging, but not this night. All the beds were taken and the only place they could find shelter was in a stable. It was bad enough that Mary and Joseph would have to sleep outside, but what’s even worse is that their baby would not enter the world in a sterile, comfortable, and indoor environment. In fact, he wouldn’t even take those precious, infant sleeps in a nice, plush bassinet. Instead, his bed would be an animal feeding trough.
It was the most important night in the history of the world, and everyone was preoccupied with life. The Bethlehem Inn was so full that it had no room for a baby, not even one born to save the world. Not having room is not an indictment against Bethlehem or the innkeeper, but it does become a metaphor for our lives today. The question must be asked, “Do we have room for Jesus?” Or have we filled our lives with all of the appointments and all things superficial to the point that we are oblivious God’s desire to dwell with us in relationship? There are not any seasons any busier in a year than Christmas. There’s all the planning, shopping, entertaining, and festivities that are germane to the season. But if we aren’t careful, we can easily allow life to crowd out Jesus, the true essence of Christmas. If you knew company was coming, you would be very intentional in your preparation for their arrival. We have an advantage over Bethlehem in that Jesus has already come. He is already with us. But the sad reality is some of us may be sold-out. We don’t intentionally crowd Jesus out of our lives. Life just has a way of taking up all the space to the point there is no room for God.
Have you made room this year for Jesus? I challenge you to pause long enough this Christmas and take inventory. I know you’ve made it a point to remember everyone and ensured they all know how important they are to you. Make sure Jesus is on the list. In fact, make sure he’s at the top. After all, what is Christmas without Christ? He was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Don’t leave him outside because you have no room in your heart.