Make Room

Luke 2:1-20

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” [Keep Reading]

Ken Sikes
Tacoma, Wa

When the nativity tale declares, “there was no room at the inn,” I usually picture a robed man with a lantern sadly shaking his head “If you’d only gotten here sooner,” I imagine him saying, “I could have fit you in, but now, there’s no room.” But is this true?

New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey points out that the Greek word used here, kataluma, is more accurately translated as ‘guest room.’ When Luke wants to speak of an inn, as he does in the tale of the good Samaritan, he uses the word pandokheion. So, what difference does this make? Not much until we re-read the passage and realize two things.

First, Joseph is traveling to his familial home. Instead of strangers, Bethlehem would have been a place full of aunts, uncles and third cousins twice removed. One of these folks would certainly have had space in their kataluma for him and his very pregnant wife… Um, yeah, about that…which leads to the second thing.

There in verse five we read that Joseph, “went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.” “So, this is your fiance?” I imagine Uncle Mordecai asking his nephew Joseph as he looks directly at Mary’s protruding belly. He may have been robed. He may have held a lantern. But this innkeeper was not a stranger saddened that he had no room for this couple. He was family and he had no room; no room for scandal, no room for shame and no room for reckless immorality. Fortunately, God is able to be born anywhere.

All God needs is a little space, just a crack, Leonard Cohen would tell us. So “Ring the bells that still will ring, there is no perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Make room, make room for the God who shows up in unexpected ways and unexpected places.

Make Room by Christine Sine
Make room,
Let Christ be born
In the quiet and the innermost spaces
Of your hearts.

Make room,
Let Christ be born,
In the streets and in the ghettos,
In the famines and the plagues and in the wars.

Make room,
Let Christ be born
Not far away in distant ages,
But in every heart and place
Where love and faith are found.
Let Christ be born
And find in us his Bethlehem.


Ken Sikes
Senior Fellow | Street Psalms
Pastor | Manitou Park Presbyterian Church

Tacoma, Wa