It's a day I will never forget, no matter how hard I try.
Business, as they say was booming. The order to have the census brought more people to the hotel than our family had seen in years. It was a really good thing, but often what accompanies really good things are more stress, more problem solving, and more tough decisions.
So when that poor couple came to me looking for lodging that they couldn't afford, I had to make a tough call. I told 'em I didn't have room for them, which was mostly true. Sure I could have fit them somewhere, but they would have taken away from others I could have made money off of. The only thing that caused me to second guess my decision was the fact that the woman was pregnant and looked like she could have a baby any day. But all the more reason to send them down the street. I had too much going on with a packed house, too much opportunity to make personal gain. This census thing doesn't come around all that often, so we have to get while the gettins' good.
Not my proudest moment, but I didn't lose sleep over it.
Then I come to find out that the couple ends up setting up camp out with the animals and the girl ends up having the baby. I felt half guilty and half relieved. Guilty because that's not the best place to give birth, but relieved because I didn't have a childbirth to clean up in any of my rooms. Imagine the housekeeping force to get that ready for the next occupant.
Then I find out that somehow the bastard born to these unwed poor peasants is actually of noble birth. Go figure that one. Some wealthy star watchers from the East came by for lodging and told me all about the experience. So again, there I am with the mixture of guilt and satisfaction. Guilt that I wasn't more accommodating to that family, but satisfaction because I landed some high paying customers out of it and was able to get a room ready for them.
I guess that's what I'm trying to tell you. I feel guilty for not making room. But they had to understand, I have a family to feed, bills to pay, I had a ton on my plate. If they would have shown up at a more convenient time, I would have been able to help. But that's the way it goes sometimes.
But now, years after the fact, I find out that that little baby that was born amongst the animals and laid in the feeding trough is actually the guy that many are claiming is the one we've been waiting for. The Messiah. The anointed one. The one the prophets of old foretold would come to bring shalom. I didn't make room to welcome the Messiah. It's embarrassing. I'm in the hospitality business and I refused to welcome the one our nation had waited for. I was more concerned about making bank than I was about making room.
And now the song they sing to commemorate his birth haunts me every year.
"Joy to the World, The Lord is come
Let Earth Receive Her King.
Let every heart, prepare Him room"
I tell you one thing, I have welcomed everyone with open arms since then. Friend or foreigner. Relative or Refugee. Powerful or Poor. They all get a room, because you never know when you might be entertaining angels and are unaware. Or as I've heard the so-called Savior say, "Whatever you've done for the least of these, you've done to me." You better know full well that I'm not going to do that to him twice.
-Is there any guilt in your life regarding how your heart has prepared Him room?
-What does hospitality look like in your life? Where are you welcoming someone into your life that has no capacity for repayment?
-What do you need to do to make room for Christ this year.