Are you an Innkeeper or a Shepherd?
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” Hebrews 13.2 In the Middle East, hospitality is a pivotal part of the culture. If anyone comes to visit you unannounced (which is very usual in our culture), you must offer food and shelter. If you do not, it would be considered a shame. Even if you offer and the person says ‘no,’ you still have to insist because it is culturally improper to accept the invitation of food and shelter on the first invitation. We live with the concept that there are people who unknowingly hosted angels. That is the reason why, when Middle Easterners (where Jesus is from) read that story of the innkeeper who put a woman in labor in a stable, it is a horrific and offensive story. How can anyone do such a thing? We judge the innkeeper, not knowing that we are like that innkeeper in more ways than one. Just like that innkeeper who preferred having a paid customer in whatever rooms he had left putting a woman in labor in a stable, we unknowingly do the same. I am sure that the innkeeper with his experience could tell that Mary and Joseph were poor. We know this because when they offered the offering of Mary’s purification after birth, they provided the least offering because they could not afford more. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke 2.22 Yet the King of Kings was content to be born in a stable so that we may have a mansion in heaven. We, too, inadvertently put business and dollars before Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. I wonder if that innkeeper ever realized what a colossal mistake he did when he saw all the visitors that baby Jesus had. He must have heard of the buzz in Herod’s castle about the star. But it was too late. This Christmas, go visit that parent, bring that wayward child back. Let go of that toxic relationship, drop that sin that only brings you anguish. Let this season be the birth of a unique season where minute gestures and relationships matter more than dollar signs. Dollars come and go. But when your child says I love you for the first time, or the wife wants to snuggle by the fireplace watching TV; when your mother hasn’t seen you in ages, or your father has become too slow for your busy life, make the time for spent time never returns. Giving time to loved ones is priceless. You can never put a price tag on those moments. I hope the Lord gives you the zeal and obedience of the shepherds who left their business to go and see baby Jesus when they saw and heard the angels. Without trying to make sense or logic, they just obeyed and saw the sight that the innkeeper missed although Jesus was right there at his inn. The inn keeper kept his dollars and missed the blessing. Have a very Merry Christmas