The Star Service 2006
It is very difficult to come up with some new take on a story that is so well known.
Throughout England there are going to be churches Sunday schools and Primary schools re-inacting the Christmas story.
Story: One year a Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant.
One little boy really wanted the part of Joseph.
However, when the parts were handed out, the part of Joseph was given to a boy he detested.
Instead, he was assigned to play the inn-keeper instead.
The little boy was pretty upset about this but he didn’t say anything to the director.
During the rehearsals he thought what he might do the night of performance - to get even with his rival – the boy who was playing the part of Joseph.
Finally, the night of the performance came.
Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage.
They knocked on the door of the inn, and the inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.
Joseph answered, "We’d like to have a room for the night."
Suddenly the inn-keeper threw the door open wide and said, "Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house!"
Thinking quickly on his feet, Joseph looked inside the door past the inn-keeper then said,
"No wife of mine is going to stay in dump like this. Come on, Mary, we’ll take the barn."
And with that the play was back on track!
The story of the arrival of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem is well known – as is the story of Jesus’ birth and the proclamation to the Shepherds and the visit of the Magi.
Indeed these stories are embedded in some of our favourite carols
So this evening I’d like to digress from the story and look at one of the people at Bethlehem at the night of Jesus birth.
I’d like to look at the unnamed Innkeeper, the Innkeeper who missed the wonderful baby - Jesus
1. The Innkeeper at Bethlehem
Inns in those days weren’t smart five star hotels.
They were a bit more like campsites - rough and ready with no running water in the toilets!
We are told, by St Luke, that at the year of Jesus’ birth (probably 4BC) - there were many travellers in Bethlehem because of the census.
Caesar Augustus, the big cheese of the day needed money so he imposed a tax.
And to ensure he got it all, everyone in Israel had to go and register for the census where they were born so that they could pay their taxes.
This meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem.
As they came from Nazareth, about 70 miles away – it was quite an undertaking for a woman in the ninth month.
When they finally reached Bethlehem, the inn was full.
I wonder if you have ever stopped to think about the Innkeeper
If you have do you think of him as heartless because he didn’t find a place for a pregnant woman in his Inn
Or do you see him as compassionate because, although his Inn was full, he wasn’t prepared to leave the young couple, Joseph and Mary without a roof over their heads at night. And so, due to the goodness of his heart Joseph and Mary had a place to spend the night.
Whichever is true, would the Innkeeper have found them a room if he had known who was going to be born that night in his inn.
So why did he miss out?
Because, I would suggest to you, he was too busy.
He was just too busy with running a business to recognize that this Baby was going to be the one who would save all of mankind.
And we too can be too busy – that we miss out on what is REALLY important
We are often so caught up in the bussle of
our jobs that we haven’t time for anything else.
Many marriages break down because people spend too much time at work and neglect their spouse.
Yet I have yet to hear anyone, on their deathbed say: “I wish I had spent more time in the office”
The Innkeeper who missed the birth of Jesus is a reminder to me that we too can miss the wonderful gift that God has given to us – Jesus because we just “don’t have the time”
What is this wonderful gift God has given to us?
St Paul puts it like this:
……..we’ve compiled (a)… long and sorry record as sinners ……and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.
God ………out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift.
He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin.
Having faith in him sets us in the clear.
God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.
This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. (Rom 3:23-26 The Message)
God calls us today to receive his Son – to believe in Him and to live that good life that God wants for us.
It is a life that we can only live by becoming his disciple
May the challenge of Christmas be to draw aside from the bustle of life to take time to seek Jesus Christ and this new life that God offers to us.