by Dec 19, 2023Devotional

Have you ever almost ruined Christmas for someone…Like the time my children went to school and told a classmate that Santa Claus was not real?

Last weekend my daughter Abigail testified some Christmas thoughts that I thought might ruin it for someone because that’s what happened the last time I testified about this. (Maybe some of you should click delete and not read any further. Ha ha)

Years ago, I read about those who portray the nativity scene in a house, and I was intrigued. I’m way over my head here, but “kataluma” is the Greek word translated as an inn. However, in other places where it is used (Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11), it is translated guestchamber. The Greek word for paid lodging “pandocheion” was not used in the story of Christ’s birth. 

Most Jewish families would not have stayed in an inn but with extended family.  Doesn’t archaeological evidence suggest that livestock were kept below the ground floors of their homes or in an adjacent cave or dugout area?

Since Joseph and Mary had relatives in Bethlehem, it seems more in keeping with the culture that they would have stayed with relatives. The whole area had flooded with kinspeople–surely aunts, uncles, and many cousins.

Reading about this possible scenario made the whole story come alive to me!  God’s special couple came to relatives’ house, and it was too crowded. The important family members had already arrived and been given the guest room. The place of honor was already full.  Mary and Joseph were not high on the pecking order and were given the lower level with the animals.

I was so excited that I testified about this at my church.  That’s the moment, years ago, that I almost ruined Christmas for some who were there.  They felt I was taking away their nativity scene with their innkeeper (who was absent in my scenario just like he is in the Bible) and the stable scene. 

Before I get troubled emailed responses, I’ll tell you that, yes, I still have a stable nativity scene in my house (actually several). 

But think about it! Here was a living, breathing couple who were not put out in the cold…but also not valued and given a place of honor.  And THAT scenario describes many of us in the Christian community!

There was no uproar when the shepherds visited.  Surely, if Mary had been out in the cold, one of the shepherds would have taken the mother and baby to their house.

I think He was given a place. 

But a place out of the way. On a lower level.  Other people were more important.  Other things were more pressing.  Other events were more exciting. 

Although the angels were on the scene, they were not visible to those in the house.

It sounds painfully familiar.

I don’t want Jesus to be shoved on the back burner.  I don’t want other things to be more important. 

Abigail said Sunday, “You might not have Jesus out in a shed.  But the bottom line is they did not give Him priority. I don’t want to miss it when He comes to my heart.  I don’t want to stick Him in a common spot. I want to give him priority—priority to say what He wants and dictate what He wants to do.  I want to recognize that He’s the most important thing.”


  1. Roberta Sarver

    I love this post! Insightful! My husband had a thought. What if Joseph and Mary arrived so late that all the people in the house were already asleep? God may have arranged it so they had more privacy that way. Something to think about: God’s ways are not our ways.

    • Elizabeth Hamilton

      We never know exactly the way that God had His miracle happen, do we? 😊