And she gave birth to her first born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke2:7
In the Mexican culture there is a Christmas-time tradition called Las Posadas. In this tradition, a couple dressed up as Mary and Joseph go from home to home, asking if there is any room at "the inn." Each home takes on the role of an inn in Bethlehem. They are rebuffed each time until they reach the home that has been designated as "the inn;' at which point they are allowed in and a celebration ensues.
Imagine your heart as an inn-there are lots of rooms in it as there would be at an inn. At many inns, there are economy rooms, rooms with a view, rooms with a balcony, perhaps even a penthouse, or top floor room. Some rooms are more expensive and more lavish, others simpler.
The inn of your heart is similar. There are things in life, like relationships or family, that tug at our heart strings, and they often get the biggest rooms at the inn of our hearts. Careers get large rooms as well. Material possessions occupy space and so do our friends. Hobbies and things that bring us joy have a place, perhaps a smaller room, but there is still a place for them. Friday nights out with friends, Saturdays in front of the TV watching sports, the Sunday afternoon barbecue, they all find accommodations. Hopefully one's heart is big enough that there is room for charity.
The question for today is which room does the Lord get in your heart? Is it the biggest one? Or the economy room? Is there a room for prayer? Worship? Charity? Are these rooms well-kept or in need of a remodel?
In the Nativity story, a woman who was about to deliver a child, and her betrothed, went from inn to inn, asking for lodging and help. There was no room in any inn. But even more poignant, there was no room in anyone's heart to extend charity and help to a woman at her moment of delivery. How could a city so filled with people not have had even one room, even one bit of charity for someone in need? Never mind that this woman was not just anyone, but God's chosen vessel for our salvation.
If your heart or your life is like an inn in Bethlehem, is there room in your inn for the Lord, or have all the spaces been filled with other things? In order to have Christ in your life, there needs to be not only room in "your inn,' but the committed Christian offers Christ the best room, the first portion, of your life. The committed Christian has a room for charity, for prayer, for scripture reading, for obedience to the commandments. As we journey through Advent and prepare to celebrate the Nativity, it is a good time to clean the rooms of your heart and of your life, to make sure there is room for Christ in them.
Because just as they do at Las Posadas in Mexico, Christ comes to knock on the door of your heart every day. Do we turn Him away, saying there is no room at the inn, that all the rooms have been filled with other "things?" Or do we welcome Him with joy? Do we give Him the economy room? Or do we give Him the biggest and the best? Spend some time today evaluating how you spend your time. And reflect seriously on which rooms Christ occupies in the inn of your heart. Just like they upgrade rooms at hotels for special guests, consider giving an upgrade in your heart to Christ, the most special guest of all.
Gladsome light of the holy glory of the holy, blessed, heavenly, immortal Father, O Jesus Christ: arriving at the hour of sunset and having seen the evening light, we praise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God. It is worthy for You to be praised at all times with happy voices, O Son of God and Giver of life; and therefore the world glorifies You. (Vespers Hymn)
Open the door to your inn for Christ today!
We encourage you to participate in this journey guided by Fr. Stavros in two ways:
- Purchase the book "Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections for Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany" by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis
- Visit The Prayer Team Daily Devotion available through the Orthodox Christian Network
About Advent or the Nativity Fast
Most Christian churches have a period of time called “Advent.” Advent is conventionally observed as a four-Sunday period before the feast of Christmas. In the Orthodox Christian Church, Advent is observed for forty days beginning on November 15. In the Orthodox Church the Feast of Christmas is called by various names including “The Nativity” and “The Incarnation.” The term “Christmas” is seldom heard in Orthodox Christian circles. The Feast of the Nativity is celebrated for twelve days culminating in the Feast of Epiphany, or Theophany, as it is sometimes called.
About "Let All Creation Rejoice"
The book "Let All Creation Rejoice" has been written to be read on a daily basis from November 15 (the beginning of the Orthodox Advent season), through January 7 (the Feast of St. John the Baptist which falls one day after the Feast of Epiphany, which is held January 6).
The reflections of Advent focus on a verse or two from the scriptures on the Nativity, taken from Matthew 1 and 2, and from Luke 2. The reflections that follow the Feast of the Nativity focus on other scriptures related to the early life of Christ, culminating in His Baptism and the endorsement of St. John the Baptist.
Each reflection concludes with a hymn or prayer from Orthodox Christian services held for the Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany.
About Fr. Stavros
Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos (Presiding Priest) at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. The Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection authored by Fr. Stavros which began in February 2015, has produced two books, "Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections for Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany" and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection."