During my college semester abroad in Angers, France, I had a week with no classes, and my dad took his first trip to Europe to visit me. We first spent several days in England with his brother who was living in London, and then we went to France so that I could show him around my town. Since my dad’s return flight was leaving from Paris, we decided to end the week with a couple of days there, and we booked our train tickets from Angers to Paris. Unfortunately, this was before online hotel booking existed, and every hotel that I contacted was at capacity. The hotel workers explained that there was nowhere in Paris with available rooms, thanks to a large number of conventions and events that week. In a panic, we called the French family of my childhood pen pal. They were not available to house us, but they arranged for us to stay on the couches in the fellowship room of their small church in the Parisian suburbs. Their church took us in when there was no room at any inn in Paris.
Jesus was born in the stable of an inn when Mary and Joseph could find no other place to stay. Symbolically, even the place of His birth reflects the temporariness of his stay on earth, as stays in an inn are only of short duration. Matthew Henry’s commentary points out that “an inn receives all comers, and so does Christ. He hangs out the banner of love for his sign, and whoever comes to him, he will in no wise cast out; only, unlike other inns, he welcomes those that come without money and without price.”
May we, like the innkeeper in Bethlehem, open our doors for people to find a place to rest their weary souls. May we, the church, always reflect in our actions how Christ has opened the doors of heaven to us.
Jennifer West Freeman