A woman, the wife of a prosperous executive, was arranging the flowers in her home for guests who were coming for dinner—one couple particularly important because the man’s influence could mean a large government contract for her husband’s firm.
The maid announced the guests, and in a few minutes laughter filled the air as cocktails were served and men and women mingled in the relaxed anticipation of good food and exciting companionship.
During the beautifully prepared and served dinner, a maid came to the hostess, leaned low and whispered something in her ear. A shadow of annoyance crossed her face as she replied, “Tell them to ask someone else. This is no time to interrupt me. They should know that we have guests for dinner.”
The evening passed with laughter (some jokes few would have repeated in a mixed group a few years before), and with a friendly hand of bridge followed by final drinks before the friends left.
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As they were preparing to retire, the executive asked his wife, “What was the maid whispering to you about during dinner?” She replied petulantly, “Oh, those Smiths down the road had a sick baby they wanted to take to the hospital. It was too far for a taxi and the buses only run every hour. They asked if someone here could drive them in one of our cars. They should have seen that we were entertaining guests.”
A week passed. The midnight broadcast was about to begin, and across the city radios were turned on. Into homes and bars, cars and nightclubs, mansions and slums, there came these words of the first Advent: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
The executive looked at his wife, and she returned the uneasy stare. Had their guests been so important that they could not have spared a little time to help some poor neighbors, desperate because of a sick child?
“No room in the inn.” These haunting words carried their meaning to many people in many places.
No room for Christ? No time for Him! No concern for things of the spirit! No love and compassion for needy people right at their side!
The broadcast concluded with these words: “How like the people of Bethlehem are many of us tonight! No room for the Christ child! But He is no longer a child. He grew to manhood and died on a cross for the sins of the world, and He arose from the dead—and He is coming again. He speaks to us: ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me’” (Matthew 25:45).
In the dim recesses of many minds there came back these words: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). D
L. NELSON BELL (1894-1973) was the father of the late Ruth Bell Graham. This article was adapted from While Men Slept: A Concerned Layman’s View of the Church Today (Doubleday 1970), with permission from East Gates Ministries International. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version.
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