Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

No room available! No vacancy!


"…there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7)

By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

What a strange world. The greatest human being who ever lived had no choice but to be born in a lowly, most unlikely place. History records that he was born in a stable, basically in a trough for feeding or watering the animals there, because all the rooms for lodging people had been taken.

Even more incomprehensible: 2,000 years later, modern-day society continues to exclude the Savior of all humanity by declaring "no room" for him in the inn of the soul.

Throughout his life, wherever he went, Jesus was shut out of human relationships and experiences. The overwhelming majority of people who lived during his lifetime never knew they had missed the most important event in human history.

When he left this world, it was written of him: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not."

People made no space for this greatest invasion of the life of God into the life of humanity. Christ was the kind of leader that the world did not expect. They sought someone who would use force to overthrow enemies. They were oblivious to the One who brought love, goodwill, forgiveness, and peace.

In this 2011 Advent season, be mindful that Christ and Christmas again come reminding you there are important things for which you must make room if this season is to be truly meaningful.

q Make room first of all to expect the unexpected! In this present age, eliminating hope has been achieved in large part. A sad truth is that few people will look for anything wondrous to happen at this time of year. It is possible these days to have Christmas without Christ.

One minister said, "Even though we know when Christmas will come, unfortunately it will not come to everyone." How true!

The Greek word openo means "lying in wait for a thing." The word and its meaning later were trimmed to hopa. Thus the Anglo-Saxon definition of hope is to wait expectantly for something; to watch for it in ambush, ready to spring upon it.

When we hope, what do we mean? Just this: We are preparing for what we know surely will come, and when it arrives we will pounce, seizing it so it shall not escape.

I know God is about to do something again this Christmas! God’s essential nature is outgoing; He has never withheld Himself from anyone. Christmas reminds us that God is here and in Him we live and move. Expect the unexpected by the Creator and, when it arrives, act swiftly!

q You also must make room for the obscure, the insignificant, and the commonplace. How easy in today’s overcrowded lives to miss the true meaning of Christmas, to crowd Jesus out!

The people of that first century were so busy, so preoccupied listening to worldly noises that the Silent Night came and went unnoticed.

Remember in this season to look for Jesus in the faces of the poor and suffering. The greatest souls have a way of being inconspicuous, occupying those out-of-the-way places like that long-ago stable. Perhaps they are homebound—or homeless. Christmas means recognizing and making room for greatness when it is unknown, unseen, and unnamed. There was no room for Christ at the best place. When you see with eyes open to the truth of Christmas, you recognize God’s best in the lesser places.

q Lastly, make room for the joy that is sure to come when you accept Christ as your Lord! The angels’ proclamation reminds all that the birth of Christ was "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!" When you make room for Jesus in those places where you have refused him entrance, your life will be filled with a joy the world cannot take away.

Margaret Taylor died three weeks before Christmas, without the chance to mail the Christmas cards and wrapped presents setting on a table in her home. When the police officer who found her discovered the 77-year-old woman had not sent her gifts, he chose to make sure they got delivered.

He asked Officer Aisha Perry to stamp and mail those cards and packages, and to include in each a note telling Ms. Taylor’s friends what happened. Ten people later wrote the officer, thanking her for the cards and sharing their stories about their friend.

The effort gave joy to those for whom the cards and gifts were intended—and to the one who committed to deliver them. The message of Christmas is about a gift that keeps on giving, but it has to be delivered.

Had there been a neon sign that night in Bethlehem, it would have flashed, "No room! No vacancy!" I am certain there were high-ranking people lodged at the inn that night, but the most important person who ever lived was not even on the register.


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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