The other day one of my friends texted me that she wanted to come and live at my house…I responded that she’d have to turn our new den into her bedroom. She hasn’t replied back yet. Of course she wasn’t serious! But later, as I read this oh so familiar story of Jesus’ birth I thought about her request.
What would I do if a good friend, or family member, or a stranger needed a place to stay? What would you do? Would it matter if the need were temporary? Would it matter who the friend or family member was… would I even consider a stranger? Then the consideration moves on to… well, even if I wanted to provide a place to stay, would I have room? Our house is pretty small you see. I wonder if I have room…If I failed to make room, would I be turning away Jesus? (a nice little girl sitting near the from said, “no”)
Sometimes its not physical space… I wonder if I have room to do one more thing…deal with one more emotion…Do you ever feel this? Maybe just getting to this night felt more like an endurance event than a celebration. We do have a penchant for cramming lots and lots into the short period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do we have room for more?
We shop…we decorate…shop some more…maybe send Christmas cards (or at least a message on Facebook)… shop some more (but its getting difficult because all the easy gifts are gotten)… we bake cookies and other treats, and eat them… go to parties (family, work, clubs, friends), where we eat some more and if you’re like me you eat too much…oh and now to wrap all those presents (wow! We bought more than we thought!)…we think about who we may have forgotten… and frustratingly run out to the store for hopefully the last time… get impatient with the crowds, the traffic, the lines…and don’t forget to go and look at all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood… are you tired yet? Do you have room for more?
Would you have some more room if Jesus was knocking?
I am grateful that you are here tonight…because with all of that activity we might feel like we don’t have any more room in our busy busy Christmas celebration. Or we may have received messages from others that have us convinced that God… that Jesus has no room for us… that we are not good enough…Is there room for us, for me?
We know the story. Jesus was born in a barn or stable because there was no room for his parents to stay. Can you imagine the horror of this? I know that we have sentimentalized the scene… so today it’s kind of a cozy place, nice animals all about, some straw here and there provides a more comfortable place to sit than would bare ground, and that warm and inviting light that permeates everything. At least this is my vision of it.
But the reality would have been much different… dirty, dark, smelly, cold. Could you imagine staying in a barn overnight? Can you imagine welcoming a newborn into such conditions?
Can you imagine hearing the words, “there is no room for you here.” Maybe in the scheme of the world, those words should have ended this whole Jesus who is God incarnate experiment. I mean, really, if you’re God and you decide to go and live as a person… to be born as a baby… and the world cannot even make room for you among humans… so that instead you are born out with the animals, then why bother?
Maybe those who couldn’t make room then, and those of us who struggle to make room today don’t deserve Jesus. Harsh words, I know… they sounded harsh to me as they came across my keyboard… but these harsh words help us to better see that none of us deserves Jesus. Not one of us. And I’m pretty sure that each of us in our own ways has failed to make room for Jesus in our lives.
So what does Jesus do in the face of this rejection? He comes anyway. He comes right into the busyness, distractedness, and messiness of our lives. He comes not at all because we deserve it… you see, he’s not Santa, deciding if we are naughty or nice… he comes. He comes for you… because he loves you… more than you can ever imagine.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the manger scene. Look…
As we look in the manger… along with Mary and Joseph and the others gathered… we see a little baby… but not just any baby… we see Emmanuel, God with us… we see the baby who became the man who came and lived so that we too might live… we see the baby who became the man who gave his life for all people… and we see baby who became the man who taught us to not only love those who are loveable but to even love our enemies and to love those who persecute us. We see the baby who became a man who invites us to make room in our lives for him…and for others.
When we look into the manger we see the baby who is Emmanuel, God with us… we see hope. And you know what? There is always room for hope…
Merry Christmas!