Knock, knock, knock. The innkeeper opens the door. With a downcast face and a shake of his head he answers the desperate plea of the young couple. “Sorry, there is no room.” This mythical exchange is so entwined with the telling of our Savior’s birth; we hardly realize that the innkeeper does not appear in scripture. A few years ago, he joined the Mercer’s nativity collection. The set that includes him has become my favorite. Something quickens in my heart every time I unwrap him. My attention is drawn to his earnest face as he curiously raises a lamp in the air.
Scripture records that Mary and Joseph were indeed travelers, and that they journeyed to Bethlehem. Jesus was most definitely born while they were away from home. There was no guest room available, so he was placed in a manger. His earthly parents were young, poor, without shelter, and with a most immediate need. Nothing in 2,000 years of re-telling this story is new. However, the innkeeper has recently given me new perspective. Presumption makes room for his story. The story of the innkeeper invites us to insert ourselves into God’s story.
We are never more a part of God’s story than when we answer the knock of the desperate. When we make room for the poor, and invest in the lives of the young and vulnerable, we enter into a holy exchange. The innkeeper offered the best he had, even if the best he had was a stable and straw. In doing so, he ushered in the divine prophecy. Incarnation. God made flesh. Immanuel. God with us.
We heard the knock of a desperate community in East Java. Not unlike the humble and lowly manger, we have seen God transform acres of tombstones into a divinely beautiful place. This Christmas, we reflect on Jesus’ birth. God’s desire to be made known to all people led up to this moment, when He entered our broken world to bring light to the darkness.
Please consider making a year-end contribution that brings life and hope to families that we have come to know and deeply love.
For the Sake of Others,
President and Founder of Compassion First