Monday, June 14

Christmas through the Innkeeper’s Eyes

I have started a series of dramatic readings for Christmas intended to be acted/dramatically read to children.  We are using them during Advent for our God'z Kidz Wednesday night group (Godly Play).  I thought having a dress-up box for the kids to play with fits right in with the Godly Play philosophy.  So, that's what we're doing!  I am also writing a little story book for the kids to take home and read the story in a more traditional manner.  If you use these stories, please understand that they are my creative work and I'd like to be credited.

Here is the Innkeeper's story (I chose to have the husband and wife co-innkeepers with the wife telling the story over a cup of tea):

Hey, you kids.  Have I got a story to tell you!  Here…have a cup of tea with me and we'll talk about what happened yesterday.

Yesterday, Samuel and I were working at the inn like always.  You know how crazy it has been!  You don't?  Well, let me tell you all about it!

The head of the Roman Empire, Emperor Augustus, he was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire and he was emperor from 27 BCE to 14 CE.  BCE means "before the common era" and CE means "the common era."  We usually think of that as 27 years before Jesus was born to 14 years after Jesus was born.

Emperor Augustus decided that there had to be a census.  Do you know what a census is?  A census is when every single person in the country has to be counted.  Some places send people out to all the houses and they ask questions and count people at each house.  But not Emperor Augustus!  He said that everybody has to go to the city of the ancestors and be counted by family group.  We are lucky!  Because our ancestors are FROM Bethlehem, we got to stay in Bethlehem.  Hmm.  I wonder what you would do if you were from Egypt?  That's a long trip!

So during this time of getting ready for the census, people are travelling all over the place.  And even though Bethlehem may be small, we have some mighty people from here.  Do you remember King David?  He was born here in Bethlehem!  King David had at least 21 kids and his son, King Solomon, had over 1,000 wives!  So that is a lot of ancestors that come from David.  And all those people are coming back here.  How many children do you think 1,000 wives could have?

With all these comings and goings there are a lot of people trying to crowd in to little Bethlehem.  I have to tell you, there are not enough inns, hotels, motels, or campgrounds to hold everybody!  This little inn that Samuel and I run is fairly bursting at the seams.  We have people stuck in every corner.  There is not an empty spot.  But, it is good for our pocketbook!

Today, some more people came looking for a place to stay.  A man and his son came and Samuel said, "I'm sorry, there is no room at the inn."  A woman and her auntie came and Samuel said, "I'm sorry, there is no room at the inn."  Then a man and his wife came and Samuel said, "I'm sorry, there is no room at the inn."  But when I looked at this poor couple, I could see that the wife was almost ready to have a baby.  She was pretty big and round!!  I asked the woman when she the baby was expected to be born and she told me, "any day now."  I felt so bad for them.  Then inspiration struck!  Do you know what inspiration is?  Yes, when you have a sudden, brilliant idea.

I turned to Samuel and said, "Hey…I wonder if this gentleman and his fiancée could stay in the stable?  At least they'd be under cover and the hay would provide a little cushioning and warmth.  And I bet we can find a spare blanket."  Samuel looked at me like I was crazy!  What do you think…is that a crazy idea or brilliant?  The woman, her name was Mary, looked so grateful.  I think she was just hoping to lie down for a while.  It is hard traveling around on a donkey when you're pregnant.

Samuel agreed.  Mary and Joseph, that's the man, were all set to stay in the stable.  I helped them get their donkey all tied up and brought them some water and bread.  And then you know what happened?  Mary went into labor…that's when you start having the baby…right that very day!  And their baby was born.  I stayed and helped Mary…after all, I've had 5 kids!  I know what to do.  When the baby was born, he was so beautiful.  There seemed to be a peacefulness and wisdom that settled about him.  Almost like he glowed.  We placed him in the manger because we didn't have a cradle.  Even thought it was a chilly night, we all felt so warm.  Like our hearts were warming us from the inside out.  It was beautiful.

Aah, I'm just probably being a foolish old woman.  But I'm sure I'll never forget this day.  The day the baby was born in the stable.

And now the Innkeeper's story in story format...

One day, Emperor Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome, decided that he wanted to know exactly how many people lived in the Roman Empire.  He thought the easiest and best way to count the people would be to have everybody return to the city where their ancestor’s lived.

Emperor Augustus was the Roman Emperor in the years 27 BCE (Before the Common Era) to 14 CE (the Common Era).  That made travelling around very difficult!  Some people rode horses, some people walked, and some people rode donkeys.  Mary and Joseph were two people that rode donkeys.

Mary and Joseph had to go to the town of Bethlehem because that is where Joseph’s ancestors were from.  Joseph could trace his ancestors all the way back to King David!  Now, King David had at least 21 children and one of his sons, King Solomon had over 1,000 wives. There were a lot of descendants of King David returning to Bethlehem for the counting of the people.

When Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem, there were people everywhere.  They went from hotel to hotel asking for a place to stay.  The response that they got was, “There is no room for you here!”

Finally, the came across a small hotel called an Inn.  They went inside to see if there was any room, and again, they were told, “There is no room for you here!”

The innkeeper felt really bad for Mary and Joseph because Mary was pregnant and it would not be comfortable for her if they couldn’t find a place to rest.

The innkeeper thought for a moment and said, “Wait.  There is some space, but I don’t know if you’ll like it very much.  We have room in our stable that is built into the side of the mountain like a cave.  You could stay there.  There is some hay for the ground and I’ll give you a blanket.  The animals that would normally be there are rented out to all the other travelers in town.”

It didn’t take Mary and Joseph very long at all to say, “Yes!  We’ll take it.”

Then, Mary and Joseph settled into the stable that was built into the mountain.   They spent a little time cleaning up a spot to rest.  Soon, Mary started having the baby.

The baby was born in the stable, in the cave.  After he was born, Mary looked around for a place to lay him down.  The only place she could see was a manger that animals use to eat out of.  Joseph quickly cleaned it up while Mary wrapped  Jesus tightly in a blanket.  Then Mary laid the baby in the manger.  Mary and Joseph could not take their eyes off of the baby boy sleeping sweetly.  They knew that God had a great plan for baby Jesus.

(c) 2011, Terri Stewart

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