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Room In The Inn

Luke 2:1-14

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December

2009

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 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, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 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.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 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; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

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Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1617-1682

"You have to leave now. Go ahead. There's no more room in the Inn." This is not a welcoming message of the Church of God for those who come here on Christmas Eve. The scene this evening is one that welcomes all and says that there is indeed room. It's the story of the nativity and it has three parts. There is the shining, the bowing, and the knowing. It begins with that, which is shining; A star, unlike any other. In the night it calls us forth. It is one of light and wisdom.

Somewhere, in each of us, there is a place that looks for it.

In the Eastern hymn known as the Troparion of the Nativity, we hear it sung. "Thy nativity O Christ our God, has shone to the world the light of wisdom;"[1] Always leading, always proceeding, we find that it is the light of Christ, the source of all wisdom who calls us in the night. Part two is the bowing. If our trust is in the shining of a star that calls us out, then when we reach it, we are moved within, to worship it. When we have pursued vain and empty choices, we yearn to find that which is authentic; that which is true and righteous. We revere that which has the innocence of a babe, yet the sovereignty of a king. The hymn continues: "For in it those who served the stars were taught by a star to bow down before Thee, the Sun of Righteousness," Part three is the knowing. If we have found the true nature of our being, the last verse of the hymn is heard, "and to know Thee, the Daybreak from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee." Ancient, this is. From the Jewish canticles of old, to the Eastern rites, to Gregorian chant.

The nativity has had a rhythm all its own.[2] The intensity of the light, the awe of the sight, and the glory of his might, transfix our gaze on this eve. All three together, open the recesses of our heart to want him more in our lives. Many will come into a church like this, on Christmas Eve, wondering what they're missing. They'll stop by in hope to find assurances and have promises filled. Well, in Christ there is full assurance that he promises to love you, more than a love we have for a baby. He came down that night in Bethlehem, to find us. His Holy Spirit searches for the light in our hearts, and God bowed low when he placed His son in the manger of the world. His all-knowing foresaw that we were well worth the visit. When he comes to your door this night, what native message will you give God? Let it be, "Come inside, there is more room in the Inn."

[1] Troparion of the Nativity, set to Tone VIII.1, Gregorian Chant.
[2] Luke 2:1-14

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