828) No Room in the Inn

From A Sermon for Christmas Day, Luke 2:1-14; by Martin Luther (1483-1546), on Luke 2:1-14

     See to it that you do not find pleasure in Christmas only as a story, for that is only transient; neither regard it only as an example, for it is of no value without faith; but see to it that you make this birth your own, and that Christ be born in you.  This is our foundation and inheritance, upon which faith and good works must be built.

     If Christ has now thus become your own, it follows that you will do good works by doing to your neighbor as Christ has done to you.

     Therefore, you have no other commandment to serve Christ other than to direct your works to benefit to your neighbor, just as the works of Christ are of benefit to you.  For this reason Jesus said, “This is my commandment that you love one another; even as I have loved you.”  He loved us and did every thing for our benefit, in order that we may do the same– not to him, for he needs it not,– but to our neighbor.  As Christ helps us so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough.  Thus, if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to help him in every way in your power, and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and with prayer.  Thus has Christ done for you and given you an example for you to follow.

     Now let every one examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ and the character of his love.  There are many who are filled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of such poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem, denouncing their blindness and ingratitude.  They think that if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more becoming service, they would have found a room for them to stay, and they would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably.  But do they look around to see how many of their own fellowmen need their help?  Or do they let them go on in their misery unaided?  Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones, or sinful people around him?  Why does he not exercise his love to those?  Why does he not do for them as Christ has done for him?  

     It is altogether false to think that you would have done so much for Christ then, if you do nothing for those needy ones now.  Had you been at Bethlehem you would have paid as little attention to Christ as they did; but since it is now made known who Christ is, you profess to serve him.  Christ has said that he is in our neighbor.  Serve him in your neighbor as you would if he were in the manger.

There Was No Room For Them In the Inn, by Eugene Higgins  (1874-1958)

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Luke 2:7b  —  There was no room for them in the inn.

John 13:34  —  (Jesus said), “This is my commandment that you love one another; even as I have loved you.”

Matthew 25:40  —  (Jesus said), “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” 

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Lord God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the world.  Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.  Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978  (#141)

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