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  • Elle

On the Sixth Day of Christmas,

God sent an Innkeeper. He sent forgiveness.

Luke 2:6-7: And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Dear Friends and Family,

Like the donkey, an innkeeper is actually never mentioned in the bible. Even though every Christmas Pageant has an Innkeeper, all that is documented is that Mary brings forth her firstborn Son and lays him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

What most people don’t know is that Bethlehem was such a tiny town, with just a few hundred people living there, that it didn’t even show up on most ancient maps. Bethlehem would have been hard pressed to have one public inn, let alone many.

So why does Luke write that there was no room for them in the inn? The Greek word “kataluma” means a lodging place, guest room, or an upper room. Kataluma might be stretched to include a “boarding house” or a “bed and breakfast.” But it is more likely that, since Bethlehem was Joseph’s ancestral home, Luke meant there was no “upper room” or “guest room” for Mary and Joseph in a distant family’s home. Due to the census, all rooms inside Joseph’s relatives’ homes were overcrowded and at capacity with other distant relatives.

Joseph would not have been turned away by relatives, especially when Mary was pregnant, as hospitality is huge in the Jewish community. If there wasn’t room inside the home, Mary and Joseph would have been offered space in the cellar of a relative’s home or in a nearby cave, where the relative’s animals were kept. This space would have ensured that the couple stayed reasonably warm and safe from the elements, but the space would have been lowly, dirty and grimy. Jesus’ bed, the manger, would likely have been a rock feeding trough built into the floor.

So how did the legend of the innkeeper come to pass? What purpose does the innkeeper serve in the birth story of Jesus? Many people, including myself, believe that the innkeeper symbolizes the mistakes made and the regrets felt by each person who has ever walked the earth, excluding Jesus. The Innkeeper reminds us that: (1) everyone makes mistakes, (2) we do the best we can with what we know, when we know it, and (3) when we know better, we can and we should, do better.

If the Innkeeper had understood that Mary was about to deliver the Son of God, perhaps the Innkeeper would have done things differently. Maybe he would have rearranged the guests, sending another member of his distant family out with the animals, and made space inside the home for Mary to give birth to Jesus. Perhaps the Innkeeper would have insisted another family member share the guest rooms with Mary and Joseph. Or maybe the Innkeeper would have given up HIS own room, the most comfortable room in the home, to house the savior of the world. But he didn’t know, he didn’t believe, or he didn’t understand that the Son of God would arrive that night, in a dark and lowly place, below or nearby HIS home.

We are all the Innkeeper. We all make mistakes and have regrets. We do the best we can, with what we know, when we know it. And because Jesus was born, in a lowly room, surrounded by animals, laid in a manger, and later crucified for our sins, mistakes can be forgiven, regrets can be eased, broken hearts can be made whole, souls can be unburdened, and scars cans be lifted. All with the power and glory of forgiveness. Jesus suffered for our sins, He knows our hearts, and He is waiting to offer the healing power of forgiveness. We only have to let Him in.

On the sixth day of Christmas, God sent an Innkeeper to teach us about forgiveness.

Love Always,

Hubby & Elle


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