…because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

The master of the house was having a bad night. The innkeeper who accommodated Mary and Joseph at the first Christmas is not even mentioned in the Bible, but it’s not hard to imagine what he (or she) was going through during that epic event. Things were tense in Bethlehem. The town was crowded. The Roman officials were determined to maintain order as hundreds of potentially rebellious Jews migrated back to their home town, and retaliation had been promised for any disruptive behavior. The inn was filled with tired, cranky travelers, all of whom seemed focused on depleting the innkeeper’s supplies of food and patience. Then, on top of it all, two more lodgers appeared at the door—and one of them, the woman, was obviously going to need attention well beyond the normal scope of guest services.

Already stressed to the limit, the innkeeper now had to make a decision about the young couple who needed a place to stay. There were two choices: make them as comfortable as circumstances allowed or send them back into the street.  

We’ve all been in situations like this. Our lives become a tangled mess of obligations, commitments, and personal interests, and we struggle to keep it all in balance. Then, just when it seems things can’t get more complicated, someone in need appears on the scene. We’re often so focused on our own issues that we don’t even notice the opportunities in front of us. And if we are aware, there’s still the choice: Do I help or do I ignore? Procrastinate? Rationalize?

We know what the innkeeper decided. Mary and Joseph ended up in the stable; and while that doesn’t sound like an ideal outcome, it was the best that could be expected under the circumstances. The innkeeper couldn’t solve all of Bethlehem’s problems that night, but he did manage to use the available resources to provide for two individuals who desperately needed his help. Would I have acted in the same way?  Would you?

Prayer: Dear Lord, We are surrounded by people who are in need. Some of them we see, some are invisible, and some we see but fail to engage. In this Advent season, fill us with your grace that we may recognize and respond to opportunities to serve you by helping others. Amen.

Bruce Campbell

About the Contributor

Bruce Campbell and his wife Judy have been members of FPC for 20 years. Both sing in the Chancel Choir, and Bruce serves on the Music Committee. He also plays the piano for the Senior Choristers.