Bobby, a seven year old boy, went home with a sad face and said, “Mommy, I have a part in the Christmas Pageant this year.”
“Oh, I’m so proud of you. Which part?”
“Why the long face… I’ll be so happy to make your costume.” Said Mommy.
“No. I don’t like to play the InnKeeper. I want to play Joseph.” Bobby cried.
His mother wiped his tears and said, “Bobby, sometimes we don’t get everything we want. And the Innkeeper is very important part of the story. He pointed them to the place where Baby Jesus was born. Where the animals were.”
The night of the pageant came. Joseph and Mary stood at the door of the inn. Joseph knocked on the door. The innkeeper opened the door and snapped, “What do you want?”
Joseph tired, pleading, “Do you have any room for Mary and me?”
The innkeeper stood there wearing an apron and spatula in his hand. He looked at Joseph straight in the eye, using the spatula pointing to Mary, he spoke rather harshly, “She can come in. You don’t!”
The audience roared with laughter and applause.
There’s so many arguments on when exactly was Jesus born. And where – in a cave, a man-made stable, or a shed outback. I thought of Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite authors. I read his book, “Return of the Prodigal Son” when I began my journey as a believer. He was one of the great thinkers in his time. When he died, someone wrote a book about his life saying that he was homosexual – the core of his life’s spiritual warfare. He kept himself free, never indulged in his desires through prayer, ministry as a priest, a worldwide sought out speaker, and his writing. I literally wept for him when I learned that he died. I felt like I knew him with all his books I’ve read. Who cares if he had feminine thoughts! In the “Return of the Prodigal Son”, Nouwen saw himself in both brothers in the story as the proud older son as well as the prodigal son. Such brutal honesty impacted my life to this day. He was vulnerable, compassionate, and wise. He loved the unlovely and forgave the unforgivable. So Christ-like.
Bobby, not wanting to be an innkeeper, is in most of us. We want to be the main star in the story. I have learned to accept where I am. In Cave 201 my “alone time with the Great Alone” that had made the difference in my thought-life.
I don’t care when Jesus was born. I care ONLY that he was born.
It’s been said that “shallow brooks are noisy. Still waters are deep.” To savor the good news is to go deep with God. Deep calls to deep. Look up, look inward and wait for his return. Too many rules and works make one look outward. So we look inward. In the Beatitude, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God…” The word “pure” in Greek means “mixed motives.” What are the motives in my heart? None of us is really that pure…to look inward is to acknowledge those mixed motive. When Jesus rose from the dead, he folded the shroud that covered his face and laid it where he was and walked out. In the Jewish culture, when a rabbi folds his napkin and leave it on the dinner table, it means he’s coming back. The server knows not to clear his plate. He waits.
I wish you a wonderful family times together — No need to be Joseph or even Mary…or the star, an Innkeeper would do just fine.