No Room

No Room

Today’s Scripture Selection: Luke 2:4-7

“Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Of all the children’s Christmas pageants I have led or watched over the years, one of my favorites was one held in a former congregation of mine a number of years ago.  All the kids were there anxiously waiting to say their lines.  They were adorned in typical homemade costumes, bathrobes and fake beards and the like.  The littlest angels had their wings on crooked.  The shepherds were threatening to hit each other with their crooks.  The donkeys and lambs were in place.  A few were falling asleep.  All was well.

Parents and Grandparents were there doing their part too.

I particularly remember one valiant mom who stepped in and put on a fake beard of her own, agreeing to play one of the wise men in place of a child who had gotten ill at the last minute.  I also remember one fine gentleman who agreed to set aside his usual cheerful and friendly demeanor in order to play a gruff old innkeeper.

“Move along,” he gruffly intoned, “no room in the inn!”  That, as I recall it, was his big line.

We all smiled as the little holy family to be moved right on cue over to a cardboard stable so that Jesus could come into the world as divinely ordained.

But the first time – long ago – on that real night in Bethlehem – no one was smiling.  I can’t fully appreciate how fearful, how dark, how difficult that night must have been.

Thousands of years later, whether we have “room” for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is still a very serious question.

I love children’s pageants and take delight at watching the annual show – mistakes included.

I also try, every year, to take time and picture – to imagine – what it must have really been like for Mary and Joseph to hear those cold words of unwelcome so long ago.

Unlike that infamous innkeeper, I pray that I will always make room for the Christ however and whenever he comes.

How about you?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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