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No room at the inn

Christmas day falls on Sunday this year. One would think every pastor is jumping for joy. Our churches will be packed!

Eh ... probably not. In fact, Christmas day services normally are poorly attended for the ironic reason that public worship gets in the way of our Christmas celebrations. As a result, pastors will wrestle with what to do regarding their Sunday services — do we cancel them all together or plan for little or no attendance?

The Gospel of Luke relates how there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the Bethlehem Inn on the night Jesus was born; so He was placed in a manger. From the time Luke's ink dried on his parchment until today, people have lamented the inhospitable circumstances that greeted the holy family in the Bethlehem community.

However, the Bethlehemites can claim ignorance. They did not know any better. Mary, Joseph and Jesus were just three more unknown faces in an already bulging community of visitors returning to be counted in a government census.

Today this family is recognized around the world, yet they still encounter "No Vacancy" signs wherever they arrive, because we are unwilling to carve out time from our plans to welcome them into our communities of faith. If only they did not show up just when our Christmas parties are getting started.

Does it really have to be us against them? Can't we plan our Christmas celebration to include their welcome and worship? Will you have room for Jesus this Christmas Sunday?

Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.