Recently my sister-in-law was responsible for setting up a live nativity following a Christmas parade in our local community. She had been assured there would be a place for her dramatists to don their costumes, along with a spot for hot cocoa and cookies to be served. What she had not realized was that this place was merely an unlocked room located up a tall, narrow flight of stairs (not exactly conducive to the traipsing back and forth of long-robed participants or lugging heavy boxes of costumes or the wheelchair holding her nine-year-old daughter). In desperation, she began going door to door at the local businesses, asking if there was a small spot where her participants could come in and drink a cup of hot cocoa while being sheltered from the cold.
Akin to the reality of the original Nativity, she received the same response as did Mary and Joseph. There was no room at the inn. Business after business closed their doors.
“There’s really no room for you here…”
“We can’t afford to get our carpets dirtied…”
Excuse after excuse turned the small band away.
There was simply no room for Baby Jesus and His followers.
No place to provide warmth from the cold night air.
Perhaps saddest of all was that my sister-in-law had been informed she needed to keep the “religious” theme away from the “Santa Claus” theme.
And where exactly was jolly, old Saint Nick? Front and center in the warmth and bustle of the shopping mall, a long line of families with children anxiously making their way toward his lap to share their Christmas list.
And the Savior of the World was once again overlooked, placed in the margins, confined to the cold.
Frustrating for my sister-in-law, but fitting, really. A rude reminder of reality. A reality that places more emphasis on reindeer and mistletoe than on the humble Babe lying in a manger.
No room at the inn.
No room in our hearts.
And we wonder why the world seems so dark beneath the glow of tinsel and lights as we eagerly grasp for candy-cane placebos while neglecting the swaddled-wrapped gift of Salvation come in human form.
Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to see and receive you into our lives. This Christmas and always, may You find a place of warmth and love to dwell among those who call you their Savior.