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Many of us have heard the Christmas story so often it has lost its wonder. Sometimes the sense of wonder can be found again when we allow ourselves to "wonder." Have you ever wondered about the Innkeeper?
Whether it's in a Bible study or a Christmas play, he usually gets a bad rap. What do we really know about him, about his heart? Is there a lesson here for our hearts too?
This Bible study lesson based on a portion of the Christmas story may be used with any age. We have included a basic Bible lesson script with a variety of interactive options for different ages including children, youth and adults.
This is also a great tool for family worship and can easily be divided into two lessons.
To introduce this Christmas Story lesson, give each person a small container and a handful of cotton balls. When you say start, tell them to stuff as many as they can into the cup while keeping count. For a larger group, you can make teams or use blown up balloons and a garbage bag for stuffing. Make a chart to see how many each could fit.
Ask - Why didn't you stuff more in? Their answer should be something like, no more would fit!
Have everyone turn to the Gospel of Luke chapter 2:4-7 and challenge them to find the innkeeper.
Wonder: Have we ever realized the innkeeper is never really mentioned? He is "assumed." All we really know is - "there was no room for them in the inn."
Bethlehem was not a huge city, but it was the ancestral home of David's descendants. ALL of them came to this small town to be counted in a census ordered by Casear Augustus. It may have been the innkeeper was doing all he could to "stuff" people into his inn. His heart may have wanted to make room, but couldn't just like you couldn't make anymore cotton balls fit into the cup.
It's easy to allow our lives to become "overbooked" just like the innkeeper's inn. His inn being full was not a bad thing; in fact he probably saw it as a really great problem to have.
We can learn a lot from this Christmas story "unmentioned" innkeeper/owner. Sometimes our own lives quickly fill up with possessions, activities, responsibilities, etc. until we feel we have "no room" left for God.
Life happens, and if we are not careful, our "inn" fills up so fast that before we know it there is no room left for Jesus.
Busyness can be deceiving. It makes us feel like our life is too full, when actually our life may have become empty. Busyness or "doing" cannot fulfill our need for true purpose. It cannot give our life that deeper meaning. It cannot lead to an abundant life. It cannot fill the emptiness.
Only Jesus and His presence can do that, and to experience His presence we must slow down, sit down and be with Him...abide with Him.
The Christmas story can help us move from DOING to BEING!
God knows our struggle with busyness. That's why He continually invites us to seek Him...to seek His face...to seek His presence. This Christmas season and on into this new year, may we slow down and become more aware of His presence. May we make room for Jesus first before other things fill our life too full.
Remember, He is Emmanuel - "God with us!" Enjoy the fullness of His presence!
Some believe we may be misunderstanding what Luke was saying about the Inn altogether here. The Greek word, kataluma, translated as inn here, may not have been what we consider an inn or a hotel. It also can mean something like a furnished upper room.
It possibly could have been the home of one of Joseph's relatives and the upper room of their home was where family and guests lodged. The lower floor may have been like a stable where the animals were kept.
We normally think of and depict the innkeeper as a "bad guy." How could he turn away a young couple about to have a baby?!
But what if this owner wanted to make room, but he couldn't? He did, however, offer what he could.
Wonder: What if this was a home where the upper floor was so packed with visitors, there was no room? What if the inn keeper offered what he had - a shelter below where the animals were kept? It wasn't what we would see as ideal, but it met this young couples need for shelter.
How many times have we seen a need, but felt like what we had to offer was too little...not enough...so we offer nothing?
We don't really know if the manger was located in a stable owned by the inn keeper, but what if?
Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above. (James 1:17) What He has given us, no matter how much or how little, He expects us to use for His good purpose and His glory.
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus told a parable that relates to us being faithful with what He has given us. Read and discuss what some of the talents or investments may be that God has entrusted to us.
This Christmas take time to sit down and inventory things or time you have to offer to God and others for His glory. What may seem too small or worthless to us, may be exactly what God wants to use for something BIG!
Jesus having to be born in a manger did not take God by surprise! God had a big purpose behind what seemed like a mistake or failure on the inn keeper's part.
Wonder: Have you ever wondered if Jesus had been born in a palace or an actual inn? Where would that have left the shepherds in the Christmas story? They certainly would not have been invited inside. God wanted to make sure all knew they could come and find Jesus. God made Him available to all even as a baby born in a stable.
Take some time and find the wonder in that!
A few additional Christmas Story fun activities for children include:
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