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No Room In The Inn

Luke 2:1-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December

2016

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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Mary and Joseph looking for a room at the Inn by Carl Rahl,
1812-1865

[4:30PM Children's Pageant Service Sermon]

Rebecca and Benjamin, a young couple, were touring the Holy Land over the Christmas holiday period and decided it would be very meaningful to them to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus. When they arrived they searched high and low all day for a room for that night. Finally, Rebecca and Benjamin drove to the plush and rather expensive 'Intercontinental Hotel' in Bethlehem. 'I'll pop in and see what I can do,' said Benjamin feigning confidence for his, now exhausted, young wife. Benjamin approached the desk and the receptionist told him there were no rooms in the hotel and probably no rooms in the whole of Bethlehem. 'Sorry, sir. It's Christmas Eve, it's probably our busiest time.' No matter how much Benjamin offered to pay, the receptionist still replied that said he had no available rooms. Finally, Benjamin said, 'I bet if I told you my name was Joseph, that the woman waiting in the car was called Mary, and that she had a newborn infant, you'd find us a room for the night.' 'Er....well,' stammered the receptionist, 'I.....I suppose, in that case, I would.' 'OK, then,' said Benjamin determinedly. 'I guarantee you, they're not coming tonight, so we'll take their room.'

This evening we take the place of Mary and Joseph, those who need to find a room. I am able to relate to this feeling. Years ago I was driving my family across some of the southeastern states, late in the evening. The drive seemed to go so well that I felt I could push a few hundred more miles before stopping. Surely there would be a hotel along the way in one of the larger cities ahead, I thought. Thinking that I made all the necessary plans, I soon discovered all of the hotels were booked. Apparently there was a “Blue tick coon dog” festival where everyone and his brother decided to converge. It was such a helpless feeling when each place we stopped said there was no room in the Inn.

Have you ever had that feeling? There is anxiety that comes with desperation. This is the feeling Mary and Joseph had that evening in Bethlehem.[1] They were desperate and making matters worse, she was about to give birth. Until we face such fears and troubles, depending on the goodwill of others, we will not understand the true meaning of Christmas.

You see, we are all caught up in the frantic pace of life just trying to find that place of peace. A place where we are joyous. But peace and joy almost always are found on the other side of desperation and fear. When we call upon God, when we ask for help, we are experiencing the birth pains of a new beginning for something we can’t quite clearly see. Jesus is born within us this Christmas Eve and from him comes new life; a new beginning.

This evening will you make room in the inn of your heart for the Christ child?

[1] Luke 2:1-20

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