The Word of God

The Innkeeper

figurines of Joseph and Mary with innkeeper

There is something quite marvelous that has happened every Christmas Eve in Finland since the early 14th Century: it is simply known as the Declaration of Peace. It is accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments including drums, choral singing and even symphonic strings. What is it? It is basically a highly anticipated announcement made in the old capital that attests and demands everyone to act with peace and love during the Christmas Season. Here is the actual text:

“Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behavior shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offense separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.”

At Christmas, we are called to be people of peace and comfort for each other. We are to be people of faith and hope that call upon the name of Christ in every situation. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Let us, you and I, declare peace tonight as we enjoy beautiful Christmas music. The time is right. How do we accomplish this? Here is one way…

Many years ago, a young innocent child whom today we call Aaron,  virtually fell in love with Christmas and wanted nothing more than anything in his life than to play the pivotal role of St. Joseph in the huge Christmas play in his local small town at a time when the real meaning of Christmas was not an issue. However, this year would turn out to be something marvelous for him, his family, classmates, and everyone involved for years to come.

This particular year, little Aaron, all grown up and in the third grade came home as excited as ever announcing to his parents that auditions were about to begin for the town’s annual Christmas Play and he of course already had lines from the role of his Holy Patron and needed his parents’ help to practice. This went on for days and when the day arrived for the auditions, his parents were just a little worried and with reason. Aaron returned very sad and disappointed because some Senior in High School  received the role over him. All was not totally lost for Aaron did get a part,  but even that did not comfort him. It was the simple role of the Innkeeper in Bethlehem whose only line would be uttered after high school students playing Mary and Joseph would ask if there was any room in the Inn: “NO!! THERE IS NO ROOM HERE!” and then he would slam the door shut very loudly in the face of the Holy Family. Clearly, he was not impressed!

But his parents had a great love for their son and enough sense that they needed to act and act quickly here in this situation otherwise this young child would lose the excitement and reverence for the most wonderful time of the year. His father immediately began: “Well, if you are going to be the innkeeper in this play, you are going to have the best and most elegant Inn in all the land!” (You see, Aaron’s dad was an experienced carpenter)  Aaron’s Mom was not too far behind: “And on top of that, you are going to be the best-dressed innkeeper in all of Christmas Play history!” (You see, Aaron’s mom was an experienced seamstress) The next two months of rehearsals were just wonderful! While Dad was carefully constructing an amazing background set with an elaborate inn with lights and mechanical details, Aaron’s costume was prize-worthy. And all the while, that little boy was getting more and more and more excited!

Finally, the day arrived and it seemed the entire town was ready for it. The auditorium at City Hall was packed to the brim and the choirs and music and decorations were all to the max. Aaron peeked through the curtain and saw not only all his relatives, including grandparents, but all his friends and their families from the neighborhood. Then the lights dimmed and the music began. There was Mary and Joseph entering the stage accompanied by a real donkey! You could see our little innkeeper all dressed up looking more like Aladdin than a precious third-grader beaming through the actual window of the Inn. Mary and Joseph slowly made their way to the door while their special song began and the stars started to blink in the background.

Then it happened. Becoming completely lost in the moment, Aaron could hear nothing else except his little heart beating. He had been transported to Bethlehem, and as Mary and Joseph neared the door, his eyes became large with wonder and love. Then Joseph stopped, turned to the audience and called out, “Please, please Mr. Innkeeper! Is there any room for me and my wife so she can give birth to Jesus?” At that moment, Aaron could no longer contain himself. He burst through the door of the Inn and shouted with all his might: “Of course there’s plenty of room! Come on in! There’s plenty of room!”

Well, the audience started to engage in a tender laugh for a while and that little special boy caught himself and his innocent error. The stage director approached him from a safe distance to whisper emphatically, “NO! NO! You’re supposed to say ‘there’s no room!'” Stunned and embarrassed, Aaron  turned to Mary and Joseph and shouted out his original lines with all he had left, “NO!! There is no room here!” then he slammed the door and fell to the ground crying almost uncontrollably.

Well now, that young man playing Joseph, a senior in high school and clearly raised with a lot of little brothers and sisters, had the right sense to go back in that Inn, pick up the Innkeeper and hug him assuring him that everything would be okay. And then, for the first time in Christmas Play history, that Innkeeper joined the Holy Family to kneel at the manger to welcome the birth of Jesus the Christ and our Messiah!

Wherever you are right now, we invite you to open your heart amidst the songs and readings and make a place for Jesus this Christmas. Perhaps you could shout to God that there’s plenty of room in your heart while making sure that you invite others to join you as well. You see, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”

We welcome you to another Christmas Season and thank you for sharing this memory with us. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Share your thoughts (12 thoughts)

12 thoughts on “The Innkeeper”

  • E. Munoz says:

    Once again, tears have been brought to my eyes. Simply beautiful. Thank you.

  • Veronica Altamirano says:

    Thank you for yet another great one that ends with tears in my eyes! We as parents see our children go through so much as they grow up in front of our eyes and we make sure that we teach them the life lessons each and every time it presents itself. This beautiful reminder to remind us too that the meaning of Christmas is the peace and joy that only Christ in our hearts can truly fulfill! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God Bless you always!

    • Caro says:

      Let us continue to pray that we will always be as sincere as that little actor, ready as the real Innkeeper, and as steady as the star that brought all of us to the manger!! Happy New Year to you too!

  • Denise Guerra says:

    Thank you for this wonderful story. I pray everyone will find room in their hearts for Jesus. Merry Christmas!

  • Julie Trevino says:

    “The Innkeeper” is one of the most beautiful story’s I have ever heard. If only we could all see through the eyes and heart of a child. I would not have wanted to play the part of the Innkeeper, just like Aaron, but God already had it all planned out for His Son to be born in a manger….right?
    Everyday, we should all open our hearts and make a place for Jesus.
    This Christmas we celebrated by going to an early mass on Christmas Eve, because of the children, then we came home and had dinner. After dinner, before opening our gifts, I made an announcement that the grandchildren had learned a song and were going to sing. Everyone got quiet as I got the music ready and they started singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS. It was as if sweet angels were singing…sometimes out of tune…but it was the most beautiful song because they were singing it from the heart for the Love of Jesus. If you’ve never heard the song I suggest you search and listen to it. I was so proud of them. Then my youngest grandson placed baby Jesus in the manger.
    Also, I had never heard of the Declaration of Peace that is celebrated in Finland on Christmas Eve. How awesome would it be if everyday we would act with peace and love. I guess it has to start with someone so maybe it should begin with me. A Merry Christmas season to all.
    I pray that these stories continue in 2023 because I am already looking forward to the next one!

    • Caro says:

      “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” TS Eliot

  • Thank you for this beautiful article! May each of us take the opportunity to put Christmas in the air every day of our lives. May our sweet baby Jesus give us the love, joy, and strength to not be afraid to open our hearts and share His blessings.

    • Caro says:

      “Each new year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year — the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer.”

  • Kris says:

    Christmas brings to many of us a nostalgic memories of a magic innocence of our childhood. Older I get I experience an amazing wave of emotions, like this little innkeeper from your story.
    I wonder what would happen if the innkeeper in Betlehem open the doors to the Holy Family? Maybe more of us would be more loving, welcoming and accommodating to each other by opening our hearts, because in the loving hearts there is plenty of room. But the world slammed and still slams doors of their “innshearts” to Emmanuel.
    As the consequence we are who we are: angry, indifferent, loveless, lonely and helpless “innkeeper” repeating the script of the first Christmas: NO, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR YOU HERE.” Dear Babe of Betlehem help is to be like boy Aaron and change the script of the first Christmas and with the loving excitement loudly announce: THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM IN OUR “INNHEART”.
    Merry and peaceful Christmas to all of us”
    Thank you Michael for another beautiful story that moved my heart and for the blessed tears in my eyes. Merry Christmas and may the New Year be gracious to us and may the change take place in our hearts. Only then we can stand by the gates of the heavenly inn and be welcomed with loving voice of the One , for whom there was no room in the inn of Bethlehem, come in, there is plenty of room here for you.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you very much for commenting to these pages Kris. We all certainly appreciate hearing your perspective on our posts. We also wish you the best of Christmas joy and the hopes of the New Year. Great things are definitely in store for all of us in 2023!

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