When we talk about what must have been going on in the inn that night, it's easy to say that it was noisy. But it was more than that, too.
The persons in that inn were also tired.
They had traveled a long way to arrive at that inn. They had packed their stuff, put together their caravans, gotten their children (and yes, toddlers) ready for the trip. They were all on their way to grandma's house, really - headed home for the census and the festival and the holiday. Headed home to be counted among their clan. Maybe just making a token appearance.
But these persons had traveled all day. In many cases, they had traveled for more than one day. They had been on the road a long time, managing bags and roads and robbers and animals and kids and all of the little spats that happen when we try to travel together (even to a place like church, right?)
And maybe they had run into the same troubles along the way that Mary and Joseph did - maybe these persons had come to inn after inn after inn that was full, place after place that had no room for them. Maybe they had knocked on two, three, ten doors that night, trying to find a place to lay their heads. Maybe it was late when they finally got a place. Maybe they then had to figure out which bag they packed their PJs in and where their toothbrushes were and how to get their kids out of the manger in the first place because little Johnny really likes that other donkey and wants to pet it and play with it and Annie is busy burying herself in the hay and then throwing it up in the air like confetti.
Road trips are tough. Journey are tougher. All of the effort that we expend just trying to get ourselves from one place to another is exhausting, particularly if we aren't that invested in getting there in the first place. The census was required. Everyone had to go home. They had to show up and show themselves and be put on the registers in exactly the right places and then, they had to pay the tax for the privilege of doing so. Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun, right? Especially not worth several days' travel.
So we have to understand how tired these travelers were. How weary they were. How heavy their souls were with the weight of just...everything.
We have to understand how weary today's travelers are.
Christmas is not a lot different in these times as it was back then; there are so many around us this season who are just...tired.
For them, this is a season filled with obligations. Often, there are so many obligations that some of these persons don't even get to breathe for the month of December. There are families to visit and places to be and packages to wrap and children to corral and pajamas to wash and toothbrushes to find and doors to knock on and on and on and on it goes, and this is magnified all the more in the lives of those less privileged - single parents, the unemployed, the recovering addict, the sick, the imprisoned, the naked.
There are those burdened by the idea that they have to go home this Christmas. That they have to spend time with family that maybe is strained, or broken. Or someone who is sick. Or dying. They have to show up in the right place and the right time, whether they want to be there or not, and they have to invest in that moment somehow, for the privilege of just existing there.
We have to understand how weary our world is.
When we understand this, we start to get how Jesus is just...one more thing. How an invitation to church seems like one more obligation. How that cry from the manger feels like one more burden. Like one more thing you forgot and have to get out of bed to do when you finally get a chance to lay your weary head down at the end of the day.
The truth is, some of those persons in the inn were just too tired to care about a baby in a manger. The truth is, many in our world are the same today. We are a tired people, weary travelers. That's why it's so hard sometimes to make one more trip...even to see the Hope of the world.
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