No Room at the Inn

No Room at the Inn

Back in 2015, mom and I went to Israel. Not a pilgrimage as some make, but as an experience of a lifetime. It was February, mostly cool, and even a few hours of rainfall with some sidewalk flooding as we made our ways to the famous and mostly tourist sites with all the touristy trappings.

I had been to Israel in 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed the journey, and would again someday with a different focus, perhaps. That first trip went to Bethlehem, but it did not go to this cave location. This was my first time here.

On this trip, we entered Bethlehem and journeyed to a cave location. If imagination and history could portray this place, then imagine an inn above ground, and the slash entrance to the cave is where they kept their flocks and travelers animals. It was most likely in a cave such as this that Mary and Joseph found themselves on the eve of birth.

It was most probably a place like this where Jesus was born.

Church of the Nativity

This was not the “Church of the Nativity” as many tourists end up at. A physical church built over the grotto and managed by 3 groups of Christians (Armenians, Greek Orthodox, and Catholic Church). They display where the original manger scene was originally found. 

I’ve been into the grotto just as the Catholic priest began their noon mass, and it was an experience of closeness, crowds, and incense – all in a grotto under the platform where the priests conducted service.

Regardless of authentic location, this cave gave a wonderful what-if, as in what if this was exactly what it must have been like. What if the Bible account of finding no room at the inn gave them only the option was the manger with all the lowing cattle, sheep and perhaps a donkey or two.

No nurse, midwife, hospital room.
No clean linens, hot water, sterile environment.
Just a slash cave in the rocks beneath the inn
A cave where animals are guarded at night
A first for Mary and Joseph, are you ready?
What to do came so natural,
She had probably attended many births
But Joseph, are you ready?
Somewhere in Bethlehem, the savior was born.

While standing in that cave, with my imagination flying high, I remembered a Christmas Cantata that I participated in at the age of 13 or so. My, My, My…was that 50 years ago?!!? Most probably!

Struggling with voice change, an inability to hear parts, and the first time singing in an adult event, I joined the chorus at Peace Tabernacle, Baytown, Texas, and enjoyed singing with friends and talented singers. The only song I remember from that night was a slow tune that fit my personality so very well. And during this season it comes to mind frequently as we listen to the jolly prattle of the holidays.

And I remember these words as if they were alive and present in my office this Christmas Eve morning, December 24th, 2017. With my imagination and historical reference, I wish I was singing in a Christmas Cantata:

No Room

No room, only a manager of hay
No room, He is a stranger today
No room, here in His world turned away
No room, no room.

No room, here in the hearts of mankind
No room, no cheery welcome could find
No room, surely the world is blind
No room, no room.

Angels, in heaven up yonder
Watch with amazement and wonder
To see the Son of the Highest treated so
No room.

No room, only a manger of hay
No room, He is a stranger today
No room, here in His world turned away
No room, no room, no room.

About this song: “No Room (For Baby Jesus)” is by John W.Peterson, from the songbook “Night Of Miracles”.