Standing outside a local church, surrounded by other adults, one of the individuals made the comment “I hear the same thing every year.” I am sure it was an attempt to at least be sympathetic with the plight of the preacher preparing for Christmas Eve.
There is only one story to tell at Christmas, the story that has given birth to more stories than any other story. I am of the opinion the birth of Christ should not be probed too curiously with word speech. What needs to be said is beyond the ability of our language to convey. And yet, the story is so simple that a child can tell it. Nevertheless we still live in a world where Herod still reigns and where nations still believe the myth that peace can be purchased through war. God comes down in flesh into a world where love still gets nailed to a cross. The Savior is born in a world where every last one of us is like those shepherds who were in desperate need of a Savior.
Listening to the news of the day or observing the world stage and the behavior of so many radicals, sometimes I feel like shouting “God! Why don’t you get down here and do something?”
There was no room in a little village on the edge of nowhere for a poor pregnant woman and her low-wage day-laborer husband. No room for Mary’s child to be born. Thomas Merton maybe captured the way this story can speak to us when he wrote. “Into this world, in which there is absolutely no room for Him, Christ has come uninvited……………………..”
Thinking about that “No Vacancy” sign, appearing at the inn where Joseph and Mary arrived I realized that we all have them. We don’t like to admit it. It takes many experiences and prayers to arrive at a point where you have it all together, where there are no empty places. We eventually arrive and we can take the No Vacancy sign down and remove the dark places around our souls and identify the conflicted corners of our world. Until we can arrive at this point of spiritual maturity there will continue to be No Vacancy signs to some rooms into which we do not want Jesus to go. None of us really want to acknowledge the vacancy in our souls, the emptiness in our hearts, the hollowness in our compassion, or the shallowness of our hopes.
Christmas is a good time to take down the No Vacancy sign and let Christ be born anew. With the removal of the sign you will be standing on the threshold of infinite possibilities.