Maybe you’ve heard the story of one church’s Christmas Sunday school pageant. All the boys and girls were expected to participate. This presented a problem. Alf, one of the younger kids, was a bit slow in head and tongue. He forgot lines and messed up scenes. But he wanted badly to be in the play. So the teacher cast him as the innkeeper. This was safe. Foolproof.
All Alf had to do was turn Joseph and Mary away. Simple.
He had a single line—“Go away!”—and a single gesture: a brisk, backward sweep of the arm, a motion of refusal and rejection. He practiced and practiced and got it down pretty good.
The night of the pageant arrived. Joseph and Mary come slowly towards the inn. Mary’s stomach is bulging with child. Alf stands at the innkeeper’s door, glaring with menace, and Joseph pleads with him, “Sir, my wife is having a baby! Could you please spare a room?”
“Go away!” Alf replies. Perfect. He sweeps the air with a violent, dismissive gesture. Again, perfect. He then slams the door shut.
Joseph and Mary turn to leave.
But then the door opens again. Mary and Joseph turn to look, and there’s Alf, weeping, shaking his big, thick head. He cups his hand and curls back his arm toward himself, motioning for them to approach.
“You can come in,” he says. “I’ve changed my mind. You can have my room.”
And so the congregation witnessed a nativity drama they had never seen before. Alf, as it were, representing the heart of God.
God is a God who welcomes and befriends. He invites and beckons.
This is what the story of Christmas is all about. A God who can’t reject the people He has made, in spite of their rejection of Him. He leaves the glories of heaven to dwell with sinful man and one day die a criminal’s death so that sinners like you and me could one day live with Him.
Christmas is about God’s hospitality—God doing everything necessary at great expense to Himself so that we can be with Him.
The door is open. His hands are extended. He is waiting for you.
“After this I looked, and there before me
was a door standing open in heaven.
And the voice I had first heard speaking to me
like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here.’” (Rev. 4:1)