The innkeeper doesn't even earn a place in most manger scenes we set-up at Christmas. Poor guy. Even the animals have a spot. Next time you set yours up on the mantle, consider who it is you most identify with. Most of the time we are innkeepers, when we should be shepherds or magi.
As I watched my 2 year old daughter attempt to arrange the manger scene, I realized why the magi get top billing. They didn't show up to Mary's home for at least a year, but when you travel hundreds of miles on the back of a camel to worship a child, people remember you. They devoted their life to seeking the king, bringing gold (for royalty), frankincense (for His holiness), and Myrrh (for His mortality). Oh that we would be like these wise men. May we be those who seek the king no matter the cost. There are moments I fail to offer much to the one I have promised to seek. He knows I'm weak and frail, and I can't earn His love. But I can present Him worship, love others for His sake, and care for those who lack. The wise men knew the value of the one they so humbly sought.
But I can't shake that innkeeper and his notoriety for being a creep. He actually showed a little love. But I guess that's what happens when you show only a little bit of love...not a lot. It seems some of us have become comfortable doing this with Jesus all these many years later. We acknowledge He is there, even keep Him close, but invite Him all the way in? Well, that would be inconvenient. He's not too far if we want to visit, and we can check on each other as necessary. The stable is just a few yards away. He can be found when needed...can't He?
The shepherds showed up with all their stink and fit right in while gazing at the baby. Luke tells us they soon spread the word of what they had seen and heard. They didn't keep it to themselves, for what they knew was too good to keep secret. In your nativity scene the shepherds are probably up close and personal peering over the head of Joseph, perhaps puzzled as to why an angel would bother to speak to them at all.
One thing we all have in common...we set up our manger scene with all faces focused on the king. This baby more than all others deserves attention. But pause for a moment and place a figure of yourself atop your mantle. Are you kneeling before Him? Or are you inching closer, desperately crawling only able to offer Him the wounds of heartbreak? Or maybe you're walking away, in no hurry, but stepping over a few small animals and around a late arriving shepherd. Perhaps you feel unworthy, perhaps just uninterested...maybe a little of both. So you turn your back, leaving behind the one who came to save us all. Stop. Turn around. Even if you slowly approach the scene, and take a peek from the fencepost...when you meet the promised one, you won't want to leave. But ultimately we need to take it a step further than the innkeeper. We need to take Him in...completely.