The innkeeper strikes me as one of the more interesting characters in the Christmas story. The person is never actually mentioned but we know of his/her actions. The first was a determination that there was “no room” in the inn. It’s not clear in scripture but some sort of barn with a manger was offered. Many assume the inn keeper offered this as an alternative.
What can we learn from the innkeeper and the Christmas story?
· Inn is full – We are all very busy people and it’s easy to conclude that “our inn is full”. The space in our home may not be full, but we feel stretched. Emotionally we feel unable to extend ourselves further. Although this is a common feeling, we often have the capacity to make more room. I have never regretted a time my family has opened our door, especially when we were reluctant to because of feeling overwhelmed.
· The guest’s identity is hidden – All the innkeeper saw was a young pregnant couple who needed a place to stay. If he/she knew the Son of God was being born, I’m sure he/she would have offered the best accommodation. When we are confronted by a need, we are often given limited information of the“worthiness” of the guest. I am called to offer not because I feel I have room or because the guest is important or worthy, but because that is what a follower of Christ does, even if we have to step out in faith for the energy, resources, and space needed.
· There is often a surprise – Hebrews talks about the importance of practicing hospitality and the surprise that often accompanies it (some have entertained angels without knowing). The innkeeper entertained the Son of God. Of dozens of Safe Family guests who have stayed with us over the years, I can honestly say that none of them appeared to be an angel. Some quite the opposite, in fact. However, there is always a surprise that comes with every guest. The surprise was that the Holy Spirit used these guests to confront something in my life that ultimately helped me to become more like Christ. In 13 years of opening our home, our family has been blessed abundantly through the joys and challenges of biblical hospitality.
by Dr Dave Anderson – Founder of Safe Families for Children