The Christmas carols say there was no room “at the inn” but that’s probably a bad translation. It was just a simple village house, not a hotel or guesthouse, with a small space or room for guests on the upper level.
The family who lived there would never have turned away guests, not even strangers – the commands of God to show hospitality to strangers are as clear as any in the Bible. They certainly would never have turned away anyone with ties to the village, like Joseph and his wife Mary, whose connections to Bethlehem traced all the way back to King David.
Yet the guest room was full. The only space left in this simple home – stone and wood and daub – was on the platform where the family slept, just above the animals, sheltering inside overnight for warmth and safety. Rising to greet your senses: bleats and grunts and murmurs, the smell of straw and feed and manure.
Not exactly fit for a king, you might think. Dark and cramped. Full of the mess of daily life.
Yet, that’s where Mary laboured long into the small hours of the night. Where Jesus was born.
And He will come again into hearts and lives and places that are not fit for a king, you might think.
Yet, the King comes, in humility and grace, to be received in the messiest or most ordinary of places and amongst the messiest or most ordinary of people.
May it be, for you, a blessed and beautiful Christmas, with time and room for the presence of the King.