Remember the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem? They have had a very long journey, Mary is visibly pregnant and there are loads of people in the streets who have arrived in town before them. No doubt, they are looking forward to relaxing, shaking off the dust from travels and perhaps enjoy a bite to eat now that they have safely arrived. Unfortunately, the innkeeper had bad news. It’s a familiar part of the story, in Luke 2.7 when the exhausted and expectant couple are told, “…there was no room for them in the inn”.
Looking around during the Christmas season today, do you ever wonder if much has changed? There is plenty of time for shopping, hanging (and untangling!) bright twinkling lights, wrapping gifts with colourful bows, baking up a storm of delicious treats…but is there room for Jesus? Amidst the festive gatherings and cheerful banter, is there a place in our hearts – and our conversations – for the King of Kings? Do we get caught up in hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and miss the opportunity to treasure quiet moments spending time in the Word of God and in prayer?
Mary was a young girl living a simple life in Nazareth when things changed dramatically and drastically. Suddenly, the angel Gabriel appeared with a message from God. He brought her tidings of great joy when he said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1.30-31).
Mary was young. She did not have a seminary degree or university credentials. She was not an expert in childcare or advanced in years with a plethora of life experience. Indeed, she was selected by God for her faith. All she had to offer was a vacancy…an open heart and an empty womb.
What a beautiful contrast to the response of the innkeeper. Mary had plenty of room for Jesus and welcomed Him. Her response is immediate! Luke 2:38 records, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’”. Despite the fact that she is a virgin, despite her humble circumstances and what we can only imagine would be a myriad of unknowns, Mary doesn’t hesitate. She trusts God and receives this miraculous news, accepting the will of God in her life – with all of its challenges and blessings.
During this busy holiday season filled with excitement, hectic schedules, COVID-19 concerns and constraints, and perhaps even physical, emotional or financial hardships, let us not forget to leave room for Jesus. What an incredible opportunity the innkeeper missed to show hospitality – he had no space for Jesus. It’s hard to fathom that he turned away the one, true and only living God.
This season, let’s make sure our hearts are prepared to celebrate and receive the Lord Jesus by inviting Him in! Let’s be sure to take time to worship Him, to spend time in His Word and in prayer. Let’s include Him in our conversations and celebrations. Like Mary, let’s have a vacancy….and leave plenty of room in our lives to enjoy His presence and open our hearts to Him in ways we never have before.
Written by Diane Prieur for Saar Fellowship