Today is Friday, December 22nd
Light two purple candles and the pink candle.
What do you know about the innkeeper?
We don’t know much about him, so create a story about him. What is he like? What does he like? Use your imagination.
Read Read Luke 2:6-7
Consider this quote today: “To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves. You have… an opportunity to pass off to another human being what you have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance… He loves you whether in a state of grace or disgrace.”
Consider this thought today: When you come in contact with a person you don’t know very well, what kind of story do you create about them? Can you re-write the story to see them as God sees them? How can you affirm people around you today?
Personalize it. How can your thoughts and these readings and prayers help you worship fully, give more, spend less and love all.
I'm Scott, a member of CSP.
The last reflection I wrote for December 18th has a similar theme to today’s; it’s about examining details. This detail, the role of the innkeeper in the Christmas story, is one I’ve spent a little bit of time thinking about. He is a fascinating character to me. Even though he is never mentioned by name and he speaks no words, the innkeeper is a pivotal character in history. Characters like the innkeeper are “hinge” characters, as in the story, in one sense, hinges on their actions (or inactions). He faces a problem and whatever action he decides on creates two very different paths with two different outcomes. Thanks to Luke, we know the first path: “…She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
The second path creates a different narrative, however.
Suppose Mary and Joseph gave birth inside the inn. Suppose the innkeeper allowed them to share a room with someone or even kicked a paying tenant out for them. Suppose he saw Mary, pregnant and tired, and granted her a room to rest and water to drink. Maybe even some food to eat. Then, suppose Mary gave birth on a bed inside an inn instead of in a stable, surrounded by animals. Instead of a manger, she lays her baby on their bed—safe and warm, for now. How does the story change our minds? Is the story better? Different? The same? Does the innkeeper become a different person in our minds? Do his actions put him on equal footing with Mary and Joseph?
But this isn’t the story we know. For whatever reason, the innkeeper gave them no room and Jesus was born in about as humble a birthplace as possible. His lowly birth is one of the Christmas story's defining characteristics. It’s a piece of the story that make Jesus utterly human and make his status as the Messiah that much more extraordinary.
It’s easy to denounce or think poorly of the innkeeper for his actions. But we also know what is at stake in this story and how important this child is to the world. He doesn’t have that foresight. And how many times a day have we been the “innkeeper” in a situation? We've chosen to keep someone, or something, out for our own reasons? It’s difficult to change that kind of behavior but that’s exactly how Jesus asks us to live—to break out of our self-inclusive behavior, to live without judgement, to love everyone we encounter, without any preconceptions or discrimination. We have to play the role of the innkeeper nearly every day. What do we choose and how is the story different because of our choices? How does the path we choose affect our story?
I think about and pray about this a lot. Dropping the facade of judgement takes hard work. It doesn’t change in a day. It takes years and steady practice. But I believe that choice is part of the best path. And that, to me, makes it worthwhile.