NO ROOM IN THE INN
The church was filled on Christmas Day,
With joy the bells were rung;
The organ swelled in praise of God
As much loved hymns were sung.
From holly covered pulpit high
The priest said, “I’ll begin
To preach upon that age old text.
“There’s no room in the inn
“You will recall how Joseph sought
Some shelter for his wife
Where Mary could in quiet warmth
Bring to the world new life.
The name of him who kept that inn
All Christian folk deride.
For Mary, tired and travel worn,
Such shelter was denied”.
‘No room within the inn’ he cried
To his eternal shame,
But in the inn we call our heart
We often do the same.
Sometimes our hearts are filled with pride,
Black jealousy and sin,
Which means that for our little Lord
There’s no room in our inn”.
“Let’s pledge ourselves that from to—night
We will not emulate
The keeper of that Bethl’em inn
Whom we have learned to hate”.
Suddenly a voice rang out,
“You do me grievous wrong”.
A dark skinned man in flowing robes
Walked angrily along.
The congregation thought they saw
A figure from a play
Who with the Vicar had arranged
To dramatise the day.
In middle nave he stopped and stared
At all the people round.
He spoke out clearly with a voice
That had an Eastern sound.
“Who are you, Sir”, the preacher asked,
“Who rudely intervene
And dare to burst in angry vein
Upon our Christmas scene?”
Replied the stranger, “Here you see
A figure from the past.
I’ve crossed the bounds of time and space
To clear my name at last”.
“‘Twas I who kept in Bethlehem
The inn of which you speak
And who you say turned from that inn
Sweet Mary mild and meek.
The cursed Roman governor
A census had to take,
And every man to his home town
The journey had to make”
“So men of David’s lineage
To David’s town were sent.
The place was crammed with merchants too
Upon their business bent.
My caravanserai was full.
Was that my fault or sin?
So I answered Joseph truly,
‘There’s no room in the inn”’
“The limestone hills of Bethlehem
Had many a natural cave
In which we kept our animals
From cold night winds to save.
The inn was just an open space.
Arcades were built around
Unprotected from the courtyard’s
Bustle, smells and sound”
“The beasts that bore the travellers,
Be it camel, mule or horse,
Were tethered in that courtyard
And watered there of course.
There amid their animals
Poor travellers would sleep.
This was no place for any man
His pregnant wife to keep”.
“Was not a quiet secluded stable
More like to calm the fears
Of Mary in her pangs of birth
Than amid the muleteers?
So in that rock hewn stable,
Kept warm from cold night air,
Protected from the world outside,
Her Child did Mary bear”.
The Vicar said, “If this be truth,
injustice has been done.
We see you did your best to help
God’s little new born Son
The stranger said, “But I forgive,
So taught by the Child’s prayer”.
He ceased to speak. The people stared —
He was no longer there.
“We all have learned”, the Vicar cried.
“A lesson that is good.
We must not judge another man
Till his background’s understood.
Be careful how you criticise,
Though black the case may seem.
There may be things you do not know
Which would his fault redeem”.
“When God desired to save the world,
No army did He send.
He sent instead a Child Whose love
Our characters should mend.
Now go in peace. God go with you.
Think well of fellow man
And give to those who’re in distress
Whatever help you can”.
Copyright © 2000 [Rev. C. Champneys Burnham]. All rights reserved.