Maybe there was just too much noise in the inn; we can all relate to that. Or maybe the travelers in the inn were just weary, completely worn out and tired from everything they had to do to get that far; we can relate to that, too. Or maybe it was more even than that.
Maybe being in the inn that night reminded those travelers how far from home they were, and maybe those travelers were hurting on that first Christmas.
Remember, these were folks who had gone to Bethlehem to be counted among their family. They were supposed to show up and be surrounded by those that they knew. They were supposed to be welcomed home with open arms. They were supposed to be rolling out sleeping bags on the floor of grandma's house and playing with cousins they only got to see a couple of times a year and smelling all the wonderful scents of those secret family recipes being passed down from generation to generation.
But here they were, in an inn. No grandma. No cousins. No family. No family recipes. The great big reunion that was supposed to be...isn't happening. If it is, it's happening without them.
Anyone missing their family this Christmas?
Anyone know that if they show up to their family's gathering this Christmas, they are going to be the black sheep and spend the day alone in a corner talking to themselves?
Anyone have someone else who isn't going to be there this year? Someone who this past year has taken from us, and the whole dynamic of being with your family this year is changing?
At a moment like this, when your heart is aching this deeply, it's hard to care so much about a baby in a manger. Your soul is in agony. The hurt runs through the very core of your being. And you look around and see all of the other families...even in a place like the inn, where look - a young father-to-be and his very pregnant wife have just come in together and it just aches all the more.
I'm telling you - there are so many who are so hurt by being alone this Christmas. Or by being rejected. Or by being unwanted. Or by being abused. Or by being abandoned. that the thought of a baby in a manger with two loving parents around Him and the entire miracle of life...is just too much to bear.
Not only that, but they are convinced that even Jesus doesn't want them there.
It's easy for us who know the welcome of Christ to scoff at this, to say that home is right there waiting for them. That all they have to do is come down out of the inn and see what's going on in the manger, but it's not that easy. Not everyone understands that. Not everyone can get past that shame and that hurt to hope, let alone to believe, that there's anything in the manger for them.
And even if they could, I have to be honest and tell you that...Jesus doesn't really cure my homesickness, either.... (More on that tomorrow.)