I completely understand the innkeeper who answered the knock on his door to find two strangers, complete with donkey and a child about to be born. I understand his frustration, his exhaustion, his feeling of having nothing more to give. His not wanting to linger at the threshold explaining.
He’s had a long, tiring day. Adding to his usual labour, he made every room ready and filled them, supervising a frenzied domestic commerce. The roads have been filled with travelers for days. It’s been noisy. Crowded. The dust is everywhere. Fights have broken out. Members of his own family are journeying for the census, and he is worried. He’d just gone to bed.
In his place, all I’d want to do is close that door.
We’ve all been there. Weary. Overburdened. Overwhelmed. It’s all the more evident around the holidays as extra obligations pile up on top of what we’re already doing: work, church, family, friends, housework, money. How many of us have come face to face with one more “Can you?” and closed the door? There is no more room at the inn.
The story of Jesus’ birth is all about that crammed-full life, the inconvenience of God, finding it within ourselves to say “Yes,” when our first urge is to lie down and rest, to stop walking and turn around for home, to close the door.
That doesn’t mean we should quit our jobs and spend all our time waiting around for God to show up, unburdened by the responsibilities of fully living our lives. It doesn’t mean joining every single church committee and never sleeping again. After all, Jesus is not born during a leisurely honeymoon but in the midst of a vast displacement of the population. The innkeeper does not turn out his guests or forgo the precious space reserved for himself and his family. But he does open himself to an unlikely, this-will-do solution.
Jesus calls us in the midst of our full-to-bursting lives, and comes to us in the need of another. What we have to offer may not be our best room. We may not be at our freshest when we offer it. But God is gracious, abundant, and overflowing. We are called to find it in ourselves to say “Yes,” even when we think we have nothing that is good enough to give. Held by God’s transforming love, our “Yes” is enough.