Making room in the inn

The account of Christ Jesus' birth found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke is beloved by all Christians. And perhaps few details of the story have evoked as much awe and wonder over the centuries as the simple fact that Mary gave birth to the Son of God in a stable "because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7.

Hearing this part of the Christmas tradition, many of us may think, "How callous that the only space made available for this woman 'great with child' was a stable! And not just any child but the heavenly royal Prince of Peace!" We may feel quite sure that had we been in charge of the inn, we would readily have offered the best we had to these holy pilgrims and given them a joyous welcome.

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Would we have? Perhaps. But we need not regard the question as mere speculation! For we have occasion each day to demonstrate our practical response to it. How so? Consider that the "inn" might represent individual consciousness, to which the message of the Christ presents itself, moment by moment. Do we receive that message eagerly? Do we find ample space for it in our thought? Or is it crowded out by the cares of everyday life, by materialism, by sensuality? Is the Christ message welcomed into the living room—does it become our center of attention?

The answer to these questions may be sobering; but if so, we can yet take heart! We can rescue the Christ message from the cellar or garage of thought immediately, at any moment when we decide to do so. The infinitely compassionate, forgiving Christ, Truth, will come at once into our mental home, without the slightest hesitation due to our previous lack of grace and hospitality! Entering in, the true idea of God displaces whatever is unlike God, filling consciousness with radiant light and pure joy.

Clearly, we will have to be very alert if we are to recognize our honored guest. Christ's knock upon the door of thought may be very gentle, scarcely audible above the din of family comings and goings, the blasting television or stereo, the incessant mental litany of all our personal responsibilities, obligations, and burdens. Truly the Christ says to each of us, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. A tender message, tenderly told. Not, however, by a messenger who will break down the door, but by a messenger meek enough to stand quietly waiting, knocking, until at last the door is opened and a welcome, soon or late, is given.

One who opens the door to the Christ need never be alone, for that tender message of man's sonship with God brings the infinitely comforting and satisfying touch of hope, peace, and fulfillment. The Christ brings the gospel—the good news—of our Father's constant love for all of His children. Not one is forgotten.

It is important to note that nothing can stop the unfoldment of this Christ message, the birth of this timeless idea of man's sonship with God. Mary gave birth to Jesus in "the fulness of the time" despite resistance and popular indifference, and thus was begun a glorious ministry among those who scarcely noticed the infant or his mother. So it is today with the Christ message that we must receive and nourish.

Today, as in the ancient past, there are the Herods who would kill the Christ child, just as soon as it has come to birth. Once we invite the Christ message into thought, we should not be startled at the efforts of evil to destroy it—we should not be startled, but we should be alert. According to Matthew's Gospel, Joseph, as guardian of the infant Jesus, was warned in a dream to take him and his mother to Egypt for a time. And so the cruel decree of Herod, ordering the execution of male Hebrew babies, failed to destroy Jesus. Similarly, we must defend the Christ in our consciousness from being murdered by hatred, fear, greed, and sensualism. The best means whereby to do so is through our love for that Christ-idea, and our tender, frequent nurture of it. We must tend it constantly, as a watchful mother might make periodic check on her sleeping babe, to ensure that its abode in thought remains peaceful and undisturbed. Consequently, just as the Christ child grew in grace, so will the Christ, as the true idea of God, impart grace to the "inn" of consciousness, transforming both thought and experience. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, "It is the spiritualization of thought and Christianization of daily life, in contrast with the results of the ghastly farce of material existence; it is chastity and purity, in contrast with the downward tendencies and earthward gravitation of sensualism and impurity, which really attest the divine origin and operation of Christian Science." Science and Health., p. 272.

We will certainly be misled if we expect the Christ message to come to us attired in the splendor of worldly fame, erudition, and wealth. In antiquity, and likewise today, the Christ has little in common with these, for their systems and values are constructed from the elements of the material world, which is fated to fade and finally to pass away. The Christ, however, is as eternal as God Himself. The Christ, as the harbinger of salvation to mankind, never changes. A prophet, writing six centuries before the birth of Jesus, recognized and welcomed the timeless Christ message when he wrote, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." Isa. 40:8.

That Word, as John's Gospel declared, "was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14. as the Saviour, Christ Jesus. He spent three of his adult years teaching ordinary people—fishermen, for example, and tax collectors, and those the Pharisees called sinners—who seemed the only ones interested enough or desperate enough to listen and learn that they were, in truth, the beloved children of God. He healed all kinds of physical and mental anguish. And ultimately, he himself overcame death and ascended, giving tangible proof of the transforming and regenerating power of a life lived in conscious harmony with God and in consistent obedience to His laws.

The promise of such a Christly life is just as real today as it was two thousand years ago. The Christ message to each of us is that we can aspire to live that kind of life, to follow Christ Jesus in his service to God and to people, and to share in some small measure at least in his triumph over evil of every sort. Is there room in our consciousness, in our aspirations, and in our hearts, for that gospel—that good news? Mrs. Eddy writes, "Let the sentinels of Zion's watch-towers shout once again, 'Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.'" Miscellaneous Writings, p. 370. Is there, here and now, room for that Christ child in our "inn"?

The Christian touch
December 17, 1984

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