“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
A prevalent image of the birth of Jesus is him lying in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn. We sing “Away in a Manager” and place nativity scenes out at Christmas to remind us not only of Jesus’ birth, but that he wasn’t even afforded a proper crib in which to sleep. This aspect of the story is a focus for us, but do we reflect on what this means for us in our faith today?
Bethlehem was crowded and therefore, there wasn’t a room to be found when Joseph and Mary arrived. We know that Jesus is returning again, and we need to ask ourselves, “Have I made room in my heart and life for Jesus?” How much room in our hearts and lives have we made for Jesus? How much does he expect? Do we allow envy, malice, and deceit to crowd our hearts (1 Peter 2:1-2)?
This past week, my husband and both my sons forgot my birthday, despite being reminded three days in advance. I have to admit that I was really hurt by this. As the day progressed, I thought I might just have to forget Christmas. Then, as more time passed, I decided that wasn’t enough of a message. I thought I could present each of them with one present for Christmas and inside would be a card stating that there would have been a present in here if they had remembered my birthday. Luckily for them, I’ve gotten over my hurt and forgiven them, but I think this illustrates just how easy it is for us to allow hurt to fester and consume our hearts, which results in crowding our hearts with evil thoughts instead of making room for Jesus’ love.
I’m sure that I am not the only person to struggle with the desire to getting even with another person for a personal hurt or betrayal. Yet, when we reflect on the birth of Jesus, we must remember that we do not want to be people who do not make room for Jesus. Jesus understands our hurts and disappointments, and will grieve with us, but he asks us to be a people who love one another, and forgive one another. How can we be more diligent in making room for Jesus in our daily lives?