Lord Jesus, You can have my room! Mother Teresa once said, “There is terrible physical suffering in some countries, starvation and so on. But that is easier to deal with than the feeling of rejection that the homeless feel. The hardest part for them is not the cold; but the feeling of being unwanted.”
By Hilary Ryan Fernando
Consider how lonely Jesus would have felt when He was rejected and despised by people. St. Luke wrote, “(She) laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Throughout Jesus’ earthly life, He was rejected. I quote D. L. Moody: “His neighbours didn’t want Him; those Nazarenes didn’t want Him; they would have taken Him to the brow of the hill and dashed Him to the bottom; they would have torn Him limb from limb, if they could. He went down into Capernaum; they didn’t want Him there. Jerusalem didn’t want Him. To me, one of the most touching verses in the Bible is St. John 7:53, ‘Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.’ There was no home for Him in Jerusalem! I have often thought I would like to have met Him upon that mount. He was on the mount alone. He was looked upon as a blasphemer; some thought He was possessed of devils; and so He was left alone. And perhaps it was on such a lonely moment Jesus said, ‘Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has no where to lay his head.’ ”
For four thousand years before Jesus was born, the world had been looking for Him. Prophets had been prophesying, and the mothers of Israel had been hoping they might be the mother of that Child. In spite of all God’s revelation, nobody was prepared to receive Him.
Had Jesus come with all the glory of the upper world, He might have been ushered into this world with ten thousand angels; and legions of angels might have come to herald His advent. If He had chosen to, He might have been born in a palace. Someone has said, “The only person in history who was able to choose where he was to be born, chose a manger.”
Recently we witnessed one of the biggest events in the history of our nation, namely the CHOGM assembly. With what grandeur did we welcome the foreign dignitaries! Our nation felt honoured that we had such distinguished guests. But when the King of kings arrived into this world there were only a few poor shepherds and their sheep to welcome Him!
The Present Day
Twenty centuries have passed and still there is no room for Jesus in the hearts of men. Nations have become so materialistic, that wherever you look there doesn’t seem to be room for Him. Consider how most folks spend their money during the Christmas season. While making only a nominal gift to the church, people are willing to spend lavishly on Christmas dinner dances forgetting the poor in their neighbourhood.
A woman was hurriedly doing some last minute Christmas shopping, dragging her little boy from one store to another, looking for particular items on her list. At one point she saw that her little boy was lagging behind, peering into a store window. She rushed back to where he was and said, “What are you doing, standing here?” In the store window was a nativity scene. He said, “Look, Mama, there’s baby Jesus.” She said, “Come on. We don’t have time for all that nonsense; we’ve got to get ready for Christmas!” Christ comes at Christmas to change all that. Today, He does not seek an inn, but seeks room in our hearts. He asks that we welcome everyone whom He welcomes, including the neglected. What a different world we will be living in today, if we had room for Jesus!
The message of Christ through a new Christmas pageant
The following story is adapted from “Trouble at the Inn” by Dina Donohue in “Treasured stories of Christmas: A Touching Collection of Stories.”
For many years, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally’s performance in one annual production of the nativity play has slipped onto the realm of legend. But the old-timers who were in the audience that night never tire of recalling what happened.
Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big, clumsy, and slow in movement and mind.
Still, his class, all of whom were smaller than he, had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play with them. Most often they’d find a way to keep him out but Wally would hang around not sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful and smiling boy, and the protector of the underdog. If the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would always be Wally who’d say, “Can’t they stay? They’re no bother.”
Wally fancied the ideal of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbar, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.
And so the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town’s yearly extravaganza. No one on stage or off was more caught up on the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. He stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that Miss Lumbar had to make sure he didn’t wander on stage before his cue.
Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, guiding Mary to the door of the Inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door of the Inn. Wally the innkeeper was there, waiting. “What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture. “We seek lodging.” “Seek it elsewhere,” Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously, “The Inn is filled.” “Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have travelled far and are weary.” “There is no room in this Inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.
“Please, good Innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.” Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his still stance and looked down at Mary.
With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.
“No! Be gone!” the prompter whispered from the wings. “No!” Wally repeated automatically, “Be gone!” Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away.
The Innkeeper did not return inside his Inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling with tears.
And suddenly the Christmas pageant became different from all the others. “Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room!”
Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet there were others....many, many others...who considered it the best Christmas pageant they had ever seen.”
Wally Purling’s impromptu performance that night epitomises Christmas very well. Christmas is about God doing the unexpected, about God surprising us and about God coming to us in the flesh, as a baby, through a virgin’s womb.
Christ humbled Himself and was laid in a manger so that we could one day live in mansions. He lived a short life of thirty three years on earth, isolated and lonely, so that we could some day live with Him forever.
Even today the world rejects Him. The only room we give our Saviour is on a cross. Though we have all turned our back to God, Jesus comes to us this Christmas and says, “You can have my room!”