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If we're not reading Christmas stories like we talked about in Part 5 of this series, then we're watching them.
And when you get to read and watch them, ooh yes.
This takes me back to childhood bedtime stories.
If Dad tucked us in, we'd beg for a story about his days on the farm. The horses, the goats, and oh gosh, there's one about a cat. I don't have time to go there today, but y'all, it's a good one. It had us giggling under the covers long after Dad turned out the lights.
If Mom tucked us in, she'd sing Amazing Grace and scratch our backs. We'd ask for the long version so we could enjoy the back scratch as long as possible.
But one December, she read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham to us. Then, a few years later, it was made into a film, Christmas with the Kranks. The quality time with Mom curled up between my sister and I in our cozy Christmas "jammers" (pronounced "jah-mers," short for pajamas - pronouncing words phonetically is against southern tradition) is why this book holds a special memory for me.
This movie even inspired this year's Christmas party. Between quarantine and the vax, everybody's a little kranky this year, so I figured we'd gather together in our most obnoxious beach attire and cruise into the holidays!
Even the Christmas tree dressed up for the occasion!
But there's one story we may even forget to read through the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Maybe because this story doesn't get the Hollywood attention.
Not even in the black-and-white film days, the classic ones like Holiday Inn. Cozied up under mounds of blankets, we watch with only the lights of the Christmas tree aglow as Bing Crosby captivates us with his iconic White Christmas solo and Fred Astair entertains us with his quick, dancing feet.
Oh, how I wish I could be a guest at this Holiday Inn. The traditional architecture adorned with simplicity and charm, it's clear this place is built for a specific purpose - to know relationship and rest.
Yet even Bing and Fred's entertainment would pale drastically in comparison to the rejoicing of the angels we saw last week in this non-Hollywood story.
Indeed, this story is too good to skip. The Kranks may try skip the frosty and the decorations, but let us not skip this.
So no matter the time of day these words find you, let's curl up. There's a place for you on the navy blue sofa in my home. Our feet can rest on the leather ottoman and you can choose between the dark green or the cream throw. Both are luxuriously comfy. (That's a rule in this house - it must be comfy.) "Jammers" or work clothes or athletic gear, it doesn't matter.
Let's settle in for a story together - one from the ancient of days of an ordinary night and an extraordinary birth.
O, Holy Night
Like I said, it's a story of a young couple with no where to go on a cold night in Bethlehem.
They're just glad they made it.
The young woman, especially.
A trip to the market is too long for an expecting mother on the back of a donkey, much less a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem - ninety miles on a donkey at nine months pregnant for a census mandate.
Joseph knew his family needed a place to rest, but the census had made the small town charm and hospitality Bethlehem once knew a distant memory as the town was now over capacity. There was no availability, no place to sleep.
Joseph, tired but relentless in his search for his family, knocked on another door. He knows the chances for availability are slim, so he starts with the need, "Sir, my wife is pregnant and the baby will be born soon. Do you have a place - any place - we can rest for the night?"
I imagine the innkeeper somewhat distracted with his hands full of cups and plates and overwhelmed with an already full house. Hearing of the expectant mother, he peeks over Joseph's shoulder and sees a woman, draped in blankets to keep warm in the cold. He sees her hands wrapped, gently holding the unborn baby in her womb, anxiously awaiting the moment when she gets to meet this child she's felt grow within over their last nine months together.
He knows it's not a place worthy of a family in this situation but it's all he has to offer. He tells Joseph, "I have a barn out back. It's not much, but it's your's -"
Joseph doesn't even let the man finish his sentence before he eagerly interjects, "Yes! We'll take it!"
As I think about this story, about the night the Savior of the World came from heaven to us through a human birth canal - how extraordinary! How miraculous! - I think of this inn.
And to think, if Joseph and Mary had been royalty, this story would have gone very differently. There would be no manger. There would have been servants and royal linens and people lined up awaiting the birth of the future king.
But here's the thing, Joseph and Mary were not royal. They were an ordinary, young Jewish couple with an extraordinary call on their lives and an obedient heart that yielded to the power of God.
But Jesus was royal!
He wasn't a future king, a baby who would grow to become the heir to the throne as we see in monarchies. He was and is The King from birth!
This was not just a royal birth, but a holy birth - one set apart for God Himself!
Yet, this wasn't the way Mary had to have expected to deliver her first child. When the angels told her she would bear a son and He would save the world from their sins, I'm sure being surrounded by hay and the sounds and smells of barn animals were not the first images to come to her mind.
Yet, God uses the ordinary. Mary and Joseph were faithful. They made room for this divine interruption (with the inconvenience and cost it brought to the plans they had made) and allowed God's glory and love to overwhelm the space in their hearts selfishness had vacated.
This is in stark contrast to the innkeeper, who had no room.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. - Luke 2:6-7
What about us - do we make room?
When the son of God knocks on our door, how do we respond?
Do we even hear Him knock above the clatter of distractions in our lives?
If we do, do we send Him to the barn or do we make room and give Him the proper place in our hearts?
Like Bing's Holiday Inn, our souls were created for a specific purpose - to know relationship and rest - gifts we have with the Father because of Jesus.
This Christmas, let's listen for His knock. Jesus never forces His way in. He's here, waiting for us to make room. It's not that He needs us. He's here because He knows we need Him. When He comes in our room - in our lives - His presence changes everything.
May we find strength in scripture and joy in hearing the knock our own hearts. May peace be our's as we make room for Jesus and rest be the fruit we know from a day spent in communion with Him.
P.S. All this talk of classic, black-and-white Christmas movies has me all kinds of excited!
Simple Modern is teaming up with The Good Day to give a classic Christmas to one of you - yes, YOU! All the details for entering this year's holiday giveaway are here!
You don't want to miss this! Enter here!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
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