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

“Hey, Nan!” I yelled. “David Berry just invited us to write a joint devotion for this year’s Advent booklet.  The theme is ‘who do you see yourself being in the Christmas story and why.’”  She came over to me to discuss this theme.  “Well, I guess I should be Jesus and then you could be Mother Mary,” I opined.  This yielded raised eyebrows, a rolling of eyes, and a shake of her head: “No way I am going to be your MOTHER,” she declared.  “It’s hard enough being your WIFE!”

She had an alternative:  What if I were the innkeeper and she my wife?  This made sense.  We rarely travel ourselves, but we look forward to Christmas when our two children and their families (most importantly our cute, clever, and growing grandkids) make the trek from Tennessee and Ohio to be here for our combined celebration and family census.  

Our annual challenge:  How do we accommodate our growing group of Christmas visitors?  The house we bought in 1971 was large enough for our family of four—but 8 or 9 or more?  No way!  So, we built an addition that could accommodate our growing family. (So far, so good.)

But what did they, the innkeeper and his wife, do when Bethlehem was overrun with visitors rushing “to be enrolled” for tax purposes, as required by an emperor looking to fill his coffers?  Instead of turning Mary and Joseph away “because there was no room in the inn,” they found room: possibly “an upper room,” but more likely a stable with a manger to feed the animals.  And this is where Jesus was born.

Like those innkeepers of yore, we hope always to keep the spirit of hospitality and the love of family as the key to Christmas, even (or especially) when it requires something extra of us.  May you, too, extend such hospitality and love to those who show up at your “inn” this Christmas. Or, if you are travelling this year, may you find hospitality and love at your destination.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we find room in our homes—and in our hearts—for those who need our help and our love; we ask this in the name of Jesus, the most blessed guest of all. Amen.

Tom and Nan McDaniel

About the Contributor

Ordained Elders Tom and Nan McDaniel came to FPCS in 1971 and raised their children here. Both serve on the Adult Education and Discipleship Committee, teach adult Sunday School, and lead weekly adult study groups. Nan also serves as Associate Clerk of Session.