There Was Room at the Inn


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I want to begin by saying I don’t want any trouble. I’m just a simple businessman with a family to feed and a record to set straight. 

It has come to my attention that ever since Caesar’s pesky census drew thousands to the city of Bethlehem, rumors have been circulating around the region that my inn is overcrowded and inhospitable. This is simply not the case. As our loyal customers know, ours is the largest and friendliest inn in Bethlehem—always buzzing but never without a vacancy—and we offer reasonable rates, a variety of room options, and a delicious continental breakfast of bread and honey every morning.  Our inn has a long and proud history of welcoming all sorts of people through its doors…except, of course, those people. 

So here’s what actually happened: A couple of those people showed up looking for a room for the night during the big census rush. Yes, I turned them away, but not because we didn’t have enough room or food (we did!) but because I wasn’t about to let a couple of Nazarenes—no matter how needy or pitiful—drain our resources or compromise our security. 

See, it’s a well-known fact that people from Nazareth are mostly thieves, rapists, moochers, and terrorists. We have an expression around here to sum it up: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I’m sure some of them are good people and all, but mostly we get their worst. 

Sure, the woman appeared to be exhausted and in labor and her husband looked desperate and scared, but that could have just been a show. Just think of all the weapons she could hide beneath her clothes! Imagine how much her husband planned to eat! You can never be too careful with these people. 

Frankly, I thought it was pretty generous of me to offer them the barn. 

Had I known the birth of the child would become something of a legend, with those hooligan shepherds running all around town spreading tall tales about angels and a Messiah and peace on earth, I would have sent them to the next town so another discerning innkeeper would reject them. Instead, the “no room at the inn” myth has gained considerable traction in recent years, and as a result, I’ve watched wealthy travellers lumber right past our doors without even inquiring after vacancy. (I’ve heard they’ve been stopping instead at the next inn over, which is unfortunate given the bed bug situation…or so I hear.) 

Word on the street is that the famous family is now among the hordes of refugees fleeing Herod’s genocide. Apparently, they’ve gone to Egypt because those bleeding-heart Egyptians will take anyone. Good riddance, I say. We certainly don’t want them here. 

But I digress. My point is this:  Yeah, it seems kind of heartless to send a woman in labor out into a cold night with nowhere to go. But I made a tough call in the name of security.  Among our guests that night were several good religious families, some Pharisees and Sadducees, a troupe of Roman soldiers, and a lovely teenage boy named Barabbas. It was my duty to protect them from dangerous people. 

So please help me spread the word that there was in fact room at the inn and that we’d love to welcome more guests through our doors, so long as they aren’t Nazarenes, Samaritans or other riffraff. 

Oh, and if you would like to leave us a positive review at Trip Advisor, that would be great. 


***

On Wednesday, a young Syrian family fleeing violence in their native country was forced to change their resettlement plans when the governor of Indiana declared they would not be welcome in his state because of their nationality.  The married couple, who has a five-year-old son, had been working with U.S. officials and nonprofit organizations for three years to obtain refugee status and move to America.  They were diverted to Connecticut, where they received a personal welcome from that state’s governor. 

“Jesus said: 'For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” 

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