One of my favorite Christmas cartoons is of two men looking at a humble Mary, pregnant with the Christ child, on a donkey being led by Joseph. The caption reads, “Just another couple of homeless people. Try to ignore them.” In a way that sums up how many people view Christ at Christmastime. They go through the Christmas holidays trying to ignore Christ, the very reason for the season.
Signs read, “10 days ‘til Christmas.” Homes are a buzz with Christmas preparations. People are shopping for gifts, wrapping the presents, trimming the tree, decking the halls, hanging the mistletoe, lighting the candles, writing the cards, mailing the packages, baking the cookies, practicing for the pageant, dropping a quarter in the Salvation Army bucket, drinking the eggnog, singing the carols, having a party, and watching “Miracle on 34th Street” never realizing that the real miracle has nothing to do with a man who believes he is Santa Claus. The real miracle is the birth of Jesus Christ. Without Christ there is no Christmas.
Where do people think the name “Christmas” comes from? Christ…mass…get it? Many don’t.
The story of Jesus’ birth is not just a story. It really happened. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)
Mary was “great” with the Christ child and there was no room for them in the inn. Isn’t that ironic? Today households worldwide celebrate the birth of Christ but there is no room for Christ in their homes, either. No room in their “inns” for Jesus Christ. How sad!
It reminds me of a Chicken Soup story I read once called Trouble at the Inn. It was time for the second graders to have their annual Christmas pageant. Ralph was to be the innkeeper. Ralph had been held back a year or so and was “big, awkward, slow-moving, and slow- thinking.” Ralph wasn’t thrilled about his assignment. He wanted to be a shepherd but he finally agreed to play the part of the innkeeper. Rehearsal went okay and the much-anticipated night of the performance came.
When Joseph and Mary arrived at the innkeeper’s door, Ralph was reluctant to say his lines but as Joseph kept asking to come in, Ralph rose to the occasion. “Look elsewhere!” he said. “The inn is full! There is no room for you. Begone!” As Mary and Joseph turned to leave, Ralph’s eyes filled with tears. “Please, don’t go,” he said. Pause. Dead silence. Then Ralph smiled and spoke. “You can have my room!” That was quite possibly the best Christmas pageant those people ever saw.
Is there room in our “inn” for Jesus at Christmastime? When He knocks do we say, “Come on in. Glad to see ya! You can have my room. Thank you for bringing salvation to us. Help us celebrate your birth.” Or do we get embarrassed, look away, and say, “Just another homeless person.”