Sometimes a story proves to be our best teacher. Here’s one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories to consider this season.
Billy was a shy fifth-grade boy but he was bigger than any of the other boys in his Sunday school class. Billy wasn’t as quick to learn as the rest of his classmates but he was eager for the Christmas play. And, he was chosen to be the innkeeper. Billy was thrilled.
The problem for Billy was the innkeeper had to be mean to Joseph and Mary, Billy was shy and kind … so they worked a lot with BIlly to be just as mean and gruff as he possibly could be.
The night came for the Christmas play. Two of the children dressed as Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. They knocked on the cardboard ‘door’ of the inn. Billy opened the door and said, "What do you want?" as mean and gruff as he could, just as the teacher had practiced with him for hours.
Joseph said, "We need a room. We need a place to stay tonight." "Well, you’ll have to stay someplace else," said Billy, "because there’s no room here. There’s no room in the Inn." Billy said his lines perfectly, he was elated, the teacher happy, the audience engaged.
Joseph said again, "But my wife’s expecting a baby just any time now. Isn’t there someplace where we can stay, where we are protected from the cold and where she can deliver her child?" Billy stayed in character. "No," said Billy.
Then, silence on the stage. One of those embarrassing moments when you know that someone has forgotten their lines. From behind the curtains, you could hear the prompter saying, "Begone. Begone." Billy was supposed to speak, but for some reason he had choked up and forgotten to say "Begone." His face showed his embarrassment and frustration.
Finally, after what seemed a long few seconds, Billy managed to say, "Begone!" Mary and Joseph, heads down, sadly turned to leave. But just as they began to walk away, Billy’s face brightened, the kindness of his heart kicked in, and in a loud exclamation he said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You can have my room!"
Billy communicates the real spirit of Christmas… "You can have my room."
This Christmas, let’s all be like Billy.