Room at the Inn Sermon
“Wherever you are… God is.”
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 
“Room at the Inn?” Message for 12/8/19 at Harbor Church
Holiday Travel. It isn’t much fun, even for people who don’t have to include a ferry ride in their transportation arrangements. We’ve all been traveling, tired, ready to stop for the night and seen the "no vacancies" at Christmas:
On a vacation years ago, the Holwick family was driving through Missouri late at night. Our father was too frugal to stop in regular motels. He would stop at some no-name dive, check the prices, and get back it the car. Eventually any kind of motel ceased. The hours dragged by. It was raining. Finally their mother said, "Let's stop anywhere. The kids are exhausted! Even a cave will do at this point!”
I vividly remember the final motel. It looked like the one in the "Psycho" movies. Gothic embellishments, gabled roof. At least we lived to tell about it.
Mary and Joseph didn't even have the benefit of the Bates Motel. A tradition from the second century (Justin Martyr) says the stable was not a barn, but a cave near Bethlehem that was used to shelter animals.
The first Christmas, Joseph and Mary had Holiday Travel without the Holiday, and without a Holiday Inn.
(one way) From … Nazareth … to Bethlehem. This would entail a trip of eighty-five to ninety miles if one went through Samaria.
After a long and arduous journey, Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem to find that there was no room for them at the inn. No Space available/ No vacancy signs/ and no convenient Holiday Inn for weary travelers. I wonder what types of “No vacancy signs” Jesus might find in our lives today if he came back to visit this Christmas…
That’s what I’d like to talk about for a few minutes today; making space for God in our lives at this busy time of year. And What are some of the obstacles to this…
Work & Tax Season. Joseph and Mary were travelling for An ancient Census – required by the Government and taken for a tax assessment within the Roman Empire . and it was important for persons to return to their hometowns for a census. Tax preparation and work can certainly keep us busy. With the Holiday stroll creating another influx of visitors, many of us are working overtime right now. Finding moments of rest are important at times like this. We make sure that when we purchase electronics for gifts for others that they have new batteries with them- Are we taking time off to charge our batteries. What are you doing?
Crowded Calendars. Relationship ‘waiting list’ (Lego blocks illustration) What are we doing to make room for others in our lives?
Sin can crowd God out – Our unison prayer and call to worship both had confessions in them today. Are we keeping good accounts of our failings and turning them over to the Lord? Sin can be like having a weak cell phone signal or dropping a call; too much static to hear…Are we making sure that we are staying connected spiritually?
So How do we make room for God in our hearts in the face of these realities? in the midst of such busy lives? From our Saturday Discussion Group:
“Here I am” readiness, willingness, openness., the immediacy of God with us, here- ‘the Right Now’ , We spoke of Intentionality . We spoke of making room in the face of crisis’ and challenges.
2951 The Clerk of Waldorf-Astoria
In the city of Philadelphia there was a little third-class hotel. Into it one night there came two tired elderly people. They went up to the night clerk and the husband pleadingly said, “Mister, please don’t tell us you don’t have a room. My wife and I have been all over the city looking for a place to stay. We did not know about the big conventions that are here. The hotels at which we usually stay are all full. We’re dead tired and it’s after mid night. Please don’t tell us you don’t have a place where we can sleep.”
The clerk looked at them a long moment and then answered, “Well, I don’t have a single room except my own. I work at night and sleep in the daytime. It’s not as nice as the other rooms, but it’s clean, and I’ll be happy for you to be my guests for tonight.”
The wife said, “God bless you, young man.”
The next morning at the breakfast table, the couple sent the waiter to tell the night clerk they wanted to see him on very important business. The night clerk went in, recognized the two people, sat down at the table and said he hoped they had had a good night’s sleep. They thanked him most sincerely. Then the husband astounded the clerk with this statement, “You are too fine a hotel man to stay in a hotel like this. How would you like for me to build a big, beautiful, luxurious hotel in the city of New York and make you general manager?”
The clerk didn’t know what to say. He thought there might be something wrong with their minds. He finally stammered, “It sounds wonderful.” His guest then introduced himself. “I’m John Jacob Astor.” So, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was built, and the night clerk became, in the years to follow, the best-known hotel man in the world.
In 1976, the 47-story Waldorf-Astoria in New York City served three-quarters of a million guests in its 1,900 rooms.
The Christmas Pageant. Harbor Church is having a pageant again this year.
Christmas eve will be the night of the annual Christmas pageant in churches all over. I read about one of them.
The night of the pageant the church was packed, as usual. The set was in place, and in fact, it was an entire wall with scenes of Bethlehem painted on it, including the door of the inn where Harold would greet and then turn away the young Jewish travelers. The director wanted all the children had a part; they gave a one-liner to a seven year old named Harold. “no room at the inn”.
Backstage, the angels were playing frisbee with their halos, the shepherds were waiting 'till the last minute to put on their annually laundered bathrobes, and Harold was being personally coached by the nervous directors. "Now remember, Harold, when Joseph says, 'Do you have a room for the night?' you say ... you say ..." Hesitantly, Harold said, "I'm sorry. We have no room." The directors looked at each other sort of hopefully. They'd done all they could.
Well, the Christmas story unfolded according to plan - angels singing, Joseph's dream, you know, the trip to Bethlehem. Finally, Joseph and Mary arrived at the door of the Bethlehem Inn, looking appropriately tired, discussing whether the baby might come tonight. Joseph knocked on the inn door. Backstage, the directors were just out of sight, coaching Harold to open the door now. And wouldn't you know it - the door was stuck! The whole set shook; Harold tried to get that door open. When he finally did, Joseph asked his question on cue: "Do you have a room for the night?"
Harold froze. From backstage, a loud whisper: "I'm sorry. We have no room." And Harold mumbled, "I'm sorry. We have no room." And, with a little coaching, he shut the door. Well, the directors heaved a sigh of relief - prematurely. As Mary and Joseph disappeared into the night, the set suddenly started shaking again, and the door opened. Harold was back! And then, in an unrehearsed moment that folks would not soon forget, Harold went running after the young couple, shouting as loud as he could, "Wait! Wait! "Look, there's plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me!" You can have my room!"
I think little Harold may have understood the real issue of Christmas better than anyone else there that night. How can we leave Jesus outside? And what can we do to make room for Jesus. What will we do with this Son of God who came to earth to find us? This One who trades a throne room for a stable, angel's praise for human mockery, this Creator who gives Himself on a cross?
this simple little statement about there being no room in the Inn becomes a symbol for Luke. As he writes his gospel it almost becomes a theme. Luke takes this one line, "There is no room in the inn," and shows us how this phrase was recurrent throughout Jesus' ministry. The question that Luke leaves for us is -- will there ever be any room for him?
- There was no room for Jesus in the economic world.
- There was no room for Jesus in the legal realm.
- There was no room for Jesus in the realm of the religious order.
- There was no room for Jesus in the world of politics.
- Let's look at us today -- to you and to me. Do we have room for
Christ in our lives?
Christ Knocking At Door
The Light of the World (1851–53) is an allegorical painting by the English Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hear My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to them. ..
In the painting, we see one with patient, gentle face standing at a door which is ivy-covered, grown over with weeds as if long closed and unused. He bears in his hand the lamp of truth. He stands and knocks. There is no answer, and he still stands and knocks. His eye tells of love, his face beams with yearning. You look closely, and you perceive that there is no knob or latch on the outside of the door. It can be opened only from within. Do you see the meaning?
The Spirit of God comes to your heart’s door and knocks. He waits and knocks, but you must open the door yourself. The only latch is on the inside.
—J. R. Miller
Jesus is at our door this Christmas. Maybe He's been knocking for a long time and he is still knocking All your life - even the events of the last few months – may have been to prepare us for this crossroads moment with Jesus, our Savior.
Don't leave Him outside any longer. Open the door this Christmas Day. "Jesus, I cannot keep You out any longer. Come on in. You can have my room in my life."
This Christmas, my prayer is that we will all renew our efforts and find ways to make room for Christ in our lives, amen.