Summary: Are we so different than the people in Bethlehem
No room in the Inn, but what about in our hearts?
Christmas Eve Sermon
† IN HIS NAME †
ON this holy night, may you see anew the gift of grace and peace, that God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ has given you.
Is there room?
It wasn’t a Marriott, or a Hilton. It wasn’t even a Best Western, or a Motel Six. It was an inn, with maybe 2 or 3 private rooms, and a common area, where most people would lay a bedroll, and sleep the night away, in front of the fire. No showers, probably the Judean equivalent of a outhouse, and a small cooking area. It would have been a hot, muggy room, reeking of the evening meal, and wine which flowed freely, and every inch crammed with body’s sweaty and smelly from the day’s journey.
But there was no room there, none at all.
Back then, there was no Christmas celebration, it was no major holiday. It was more like April 15th, when taxes were due, and the crowds were traveling to pay the tax that was derived from the census. Therefore, patience was probably short, and many probably concerned about money, and time away from home.
But there was no there in the inn, none at all.
As a kid I often thought, if only I were the innkeeper, Mary and Joseph would have gotten the best room, no matter who I offended, no matter what it cost. We usually picture the innkeeper as mean scoundrel, who takes great joy in telling them there is no room – but that they can sleep in the stable, over back by the manger. As I get older, I am not as sure, for I see in the innkeeper, a picture of myself. Harried and hassled, with too many distractions, too many needs.
To be honest, I am not sure, there would be room at my inn, either.
What is there?
As a society, even as the church, I fear we do not do any better making room for Jesus. Indeed, we should be better at it, for we know WHO He is. Yet our lives are just as busy, just as taken up by work, by the business, by the preparations for celebrating the Holidays. We run from this mall, to that appointment, to this party, to that friends house, till we are so tired, so exhausted; That often, we forget the “reason for the season”, the miracle of Christ’s coming. There is little room in our hearts, for that which is truly the most important, the fact that we live in the presence of God! That we are not alone, or unloved, or without hope. We overlook the peace of God, exchanging it for the chaos of this world.
Some of you may be saying – not me pastor- see – I am here – I made room – tonight. Some of you will probably come tomorrow at 9:00 o’clock as well. Yet, walking in the door, was your mind on worship, or on the thousand little details left to deal with? Or if you are like me – on the little details that make up the service?
If I take a moment to really think about it, the rest of my year is not much better, I am just more attuned to the irony at this time of year. That I spend more time planning for worship than actually doing it, that I spend more time reading about prayer, than on my knees. That I spend more time talking about God, than talking to Him.
It doesn’t surprise God – He came – for that reason..
And then, I look at the manger scene, and realize, the Father knew this about me – prior to sending Jesus to be born in a stable, to be laid in a feeding trough. Despite all that I am, despite the lack of room and time I have for God in my hectic life, Jesus came for me and for you, and for the whole world.
He did not expect us to be perfect, but He came, as our Old Testament readings says, to establish His kingdom. Look at it there on page 5. It doesn’t say he came to take someone else’s kingdom, or to take the kingdom prepared for Him. He would rule our hearts, our lives, but He knew, that when He came, there would be little room, if any.
How God makes room – He incarnates
But to this imperfect world, without room for Him, Jesus was born. Because He had room in His heart, for us! Our imperfections did not matter, for in the cross, that imperfection, that sin, would be separated from us, and laid on Him. His righteousness, would be credited to our account – and the Father would see us as righteous, even as He poured out wrath on our sin – which Jesus took on Himself. He laid all heaven aside, to come and love us, beyond anything anyone of us could imagine. He makes room in our hearts, by ridding us of sin, and guilt and shame. By teaching us about His incredible love, and that love, while self-sacrificing, is always fulfilling. By being our God, by making us, His People.