I have a friend who teaches in the upper peninsula in Michigan. He has one of those schools that run from kindergarten all the way up through eighth grade, including special ed. One of his students was intellectually slow, couldn’t do very well in classes. And when Christmas Pageant time came he wanted to have a part in the Pageant. What’s more, he wanted a speaking part. He wouldn’t settle for anything less.

So they made into the innkeeper. They figured he could handle that because all he had to do was say, “No room,” twice: once before Mary spoke, once after she spoke. The night of the Pageant, Mary knocks on the door he opens the door, and he says in a brusque fashion, “No room!” Mary says, “But I’m sick, and I’m cold, and I’m going to have a baby, and if you don’t give me a place to sleep, my baby will be born in the cold, cold night.”

He just stood there. The boy behind him nudged him and said, “No room, No room, say, “No room.’” And finally, he turned and he said, “I know what I’m supposed to say, but she can have my room.”

Anthony Campolo in, William H. Willimon Ed, Sermons from Duke Chapel: Voices from “A Great Towering Church,” Duke University Press, 2005.

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