Room in the Inn

Detail from the stained glass windows on the south side aisle of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

Now I would that ye should understand that the word of God was liberal unto all, that none were deprived of the privilege of assembling themselves together to hear the word of God.

Alma 6:5

The Greek word for “inn” is pandocheion (πανδοχεῖον), a compound word which literally means “all-accepting” or “receptive to all.” It’s a place for a weary traveler to rest without worrying about being rejected or treated badly. The word only appears once in the New Testament, as the location where the Good Samaritan takes the injured traveler to rest and recover. He gives money to the host, or innkeeper (pandocheus, πανδοχεύς), instructing him to take care of the traveler and promising to cover any additional costs required. (See Luke 10:34-35.)

So it’s ironic that the King James translators also used the word “inn” in another passage, to describe the lodging place (kataluó, καταλύω) which couldn’t accommodate Mary and Joseph on the night Jesus was born. They “laid him in a manger,” Luke says, “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). The Savior began His life in a very different state from the wounded traveler of His parable: turned away from a place of comfort and security because there was no room.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong pointed out the contrast between these two stories as he encouraged us to make room for all of God’s children:

The Good Samaritan puts us on His own donkey…. He brings us to the inn, which can represent His Church. At the Inn, the Good Samaritan says, “Take care of him; … when I come again, I will repay thee….”

Jesus Christ invites us to become, like Him, a good Samaritan, to make His Inn (His Church) a refuge for all from life’s bruises and storms.

Room in the Inn,” General Conference, April 2021 (see footnote 2)

What can we do to make the Inn more welcoming for weary and wounded travelers?

  1. Resist the temptation to judge. If people dress, act, or talk in unfamiliar ways, don’t assume that you understand why. There is probably more to their story than you realize.
  2. Speak up. Silence can too easily be misconstrued as rejection. Say hello, smile, and ask questions.
  3. Listen to learn. Don’t come to church hoping to be validated in your beliefs. Come prepared to be challenged, to see things in a new way. What’s the point of worshipping with others if we don’t allow them to influence us?
  4. Mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice with those that rejoice. (See Mosiah 18:9.) We build community as we travel together, sharing one another’s joys and sorrows. That sense of solidarity can magnify our happiness and lessen the pain of our trials.

Today, I will make room in the Savior’s Inn for my fellow-travelers. I will reach out to members of my congregation, strengthen my relationships with them, and do what I can to help all feel welcome and included.

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