Our Pastor, last Sunday, made reference to the fact that, when Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn. That, of course, relegated them to sleeping .. and giving birth .. in the stable. And, I'd heard that story for 50 years or so, always in the light of how tragic it was, and how indicative of a world that generally gives Jesus no room in their hearts.
Well, I can't argue about that last part, but I have suddenly come to see that whole stable deal as quite expectable, and not unlike what might have happened today.
I ran into my Pastor in the hall at church last night and asked why that would have been considered a tragedy. He correctly pointed out that it was the King of the world about to be born, and there was no room for him. I then asked whether it might be an expectable thing that, showing up unannounced at an inn, in a city that would have been busy with folks coming in for the big event (the enrollment .. not the birth), one might find all the rooms taken.
I don't think if the average pastor were to drop in at a Holiday Inn, without reservation, that he'd view it as any sort of plot against Christianity, were they out of rooms for the night.
And that got me to thinking ... who did God announce the event to, anyway? To my knowledge, only two groups ... the Magi (or wise men), and the Shepherds. And what was their reaction? They dropped everything and came to see. And quite some distance, in the case of the Magi.
So I am forced to conclude that God wanted those two little groups to know of the miraculous birth, but conversely, God did not want the rest of the world to know that Mary was giving birth to God in the flesh, that evening!
That's not a very helpful thought for a Calvinist who's trying to fit into a Baptist culture! God being select in revelation?
Personally, I think the innkeeper that evening found favor with God. He had an inn full of folks and he was honorable enough not to toss anyone out into the street to make room for Mary & Joseph. Sure, he probably would have, had he known, but how could he have known Who it was that was about to be born?
He couldn't. Unless God revealed it, and God didn't do that.
In fact, the innkeeper did give them a place to stay. A stable, but he really didn't have to do that! He could have just sent them packing....
There's a perfect dichotomy set up in the story of Jesus birth, life and death. Birth in the most humble circumstances imaginable, death in the most humiliating way known, and a life completely invested in others.
Followed by a seat at the right hand of God.
How completely fitting for the Servant King, and all the more reason for me to shun any "honor" man can bestow on earth.
So .. I say "Well done, Innkeeper, well done". I hope you didn't beat yourself up over the whole deal, if you ever came to know what happened that night in your stable. You had a big role in the Greatest Play ever.