- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

The following is an excerpt from a sermon “The First Songs of Christmas: The Angels’ Song,” delivered yesterday by the Rev. Mark A. Adams at the Redland Baptist Church in Rockville.

I remember the Christmas Eve when I was 8 years old, my dad noticed my restless anxiety and he took me to the dime store (these days we call them dollar stores) and bought me a set of dominoes. Then we came home and he taught me to play, and we sat at the kitchen table playing dominoes for hours until I got so tired I could play no longer. Then he shuffled me off to bed and I woke the next morning to that day I had been eagerly anticipating for months.

Well, the truth is, its always hard to wait when we know something good is coming, whether its your wedding day, or the birth of a child, or the final installment of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. And perhaps this is one thing that makes Christmas so wonderful. Because, when that time of the year rolls around we celebrate the fact that the greatest good that God has ever given us finally came. After hundreds of prophesies given over thousands of years finally the Messiah was born that first Christmas night.

If youve been here the past few weeks you know we are in the midst of an examination of the events surrounding that night of nights when Jesus was born. Our study is centered around the lyrics of the first songs of Christmas written and sung by the central characters of the Christmas story.

Now, traditionally, the innkeeper has been the villain in the retelling of the Christmas story. Those ominous words “There was no room for them in the inn” seem to indicate his calloused indifference to human need. After all, who would be so cruel as to refuse to give room to a pregnant woman?

You see, the actual translation of the Greek here goes like this, “There was no appropriate place for them in the inn.” Inns in the first century were not at all what we are accustomed to when we travel. They were little more than courtyards filled with three-sided stalls. All you got for your money was a fire to cook your food on, a place to hitch your animal, some straw where the two of you could lie down, and a wall that would break the wind at night: no roof, no privacy, and free continental breakfasts in the lobby were out of the question. So, one possibility is that the innkeeper realized that this young traveling couple who had been camping in his courtyard for several months were approaching an awkward moment and that an open courtyard was just not an appropriate place to have a baby. The innkeeper was probably not a calloused villain and may even have been an empathetic help to Mary and Joseph, taking it on himself to locate a private place with a roof overhead no small task in a town crowded with people coming for this Roman census.

During World War II a unit of Japanese soldiers were stationed on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. But, from time to time during the war, these Japanese soldiers would swim to another island nearby to steal food from the allied base that was there. They continued to do this for two years after the war ended until on one food-pilfering trip one of these soldiers found a magazine left by a tourist on the beach, read it and discovered that the war was over. He told his fellow soldiers and they went home. The war had been over for quite some time, but no one had bothered to tell these guys.

Well, the same thing is happening in our world today. Read the news. There are people who still have not experienced first-hand the peace of God because no one has told them the good news.

And, as it says in another song of Christmas, as Christians this is our responsibility. We are to go and tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born.

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