Wally was big for his age, seven-years-old. Everyone wondered what role the teacher would give him in the annual Christmas play. Especially considering the fact that he was also a slow learner. Perhaps he could pull the curtain. To everyone’s surprise the teacher gave Wally the role of the innkeeper. The boy of course was delighted. After all, all he had to learn was one line: “There is no room in the inn.” He had that down in no time.
Then came the night for the program. The parents took their places. Every seat in the auditorium was filled. The children entered singing "Oh come all ye faithful." The lights dimmed. A hush moved over the audience. The curtain opened on Scene One. Mary and Joseph entered the stage and walked up to the inn. "Please sir, my wife is not well. Could we have a room for the night?” Wally was ready for his line. He had re-hearsed it all night. He began, there is…and he hesitated. He started over again. There is. . .and again his mind went completely blank. Everyone was embarrassed for him but poor Wally just didn't know what to do. Joseph thought he would improvise and started walking away toward the stable on stage left. Seeing him walking away Wally in desperation called out: “Look, there's plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me."
That seems a rather delightful twist on a familiar story. Over the years the characters in the Christmas story have become clearly defined for us. Herod was a villain and the wise men were heroes. The shepherds were heroes and the Innkeeper--well, the poor innkeeper has gone down as one of the heavies in the story.
But perhaps the innkeeper has received bad press. Preachers over the centuries have had a field day with the poor fellow. But was it his fault that the inn was built with twelve rooms instead of thirteen? Was it his fault that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that the entire world should be taxed? Was it his fault that Mary and Jo-seph were so late in arriving?
Luke takes this one line, “There is no room in the inn,” and shows us how this phrase was recurrent throughout Jesus’ ministry. The question that Luke leaves for us is--will there ever be any room for him?
There was no room for Jesus in the economic world.
There was no room for Jesus in the legal realm.
There was no room for Jesus in the realm of the religious order.
There was no room for Jesus in the world of politics.
Wherever Jesus turned there was no room for him. What began first in Bethlehem when the innkeeper turned him away was to become a recurrent theme. Let’s look at us today--to you and to me. Do we have room for Christ in our lives? When the innkeeper was presented with this unexpected situation that night, he faced what I call our universal dilemma. At that point he became like all of us when we are asked: Do we have room for the Mes-siah?
The fact is that the Messiah comes knocking at the door of our hearts many times in life, in various ways, through various people, in various events.
The innkeeper claimed that he had no room. Isn't the crowded inn a rather appropriate symbol of our lives? So cluttered that there is just no time, no energy, no money, and no room left over. There is just no room in our lives for the Messiah.
So the advent message to us is to watch and wait. Keep our minds and our hearts open for his coming. For the hour approaches when Messiah will come to you and to me. And like the Bethlehem innkeeper we will be forced to make a decision. Will our lives be so cluttered with incidentals that there will be no room for God? Or will we open the door and gladly welcome him in.
Let’s be like Wally and call out: “Look, there's plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me."