The Miracle at the Inn
By Betty Wall Madsen
Retold by Sterling W. Sill
The story centers around a little ten-year-old boy by the name of Haun. Haun was a little crippled boy, the son of Japhet, the innkeeper at Bethlehem. Because of his twisted back and his awkward hump, he was unable to run and play and do the things that the other boys did. But Haun was a fine boy, and he was made responsible by his father for the care of the inn stable where the animals were kept. Haun loved animals and he did his work in the stable with great pride and joy. Day after day he faithfully worked at his job to keep the stable clean and make it a pleasant place. Sometimes Haun obtained permission from his parents to sleep in the stable with the animals that he loved. He took such pride in his work in the stable and he loved the animals so that it was a great delight to him when he could sleep in his bed in the manger.
Then tax time came, when many people came crowding into Bethlehem. With all of the activity on this particular day Haun worked very hard as there was much to be done. But Haun also liked to watch the people who came to stay in the inn owned by his father. Long after the inn had been filled, Joseph and Mary came seeking a place to spend the night. While Joseph was talking with Japhet, Haun held the gray donkey on which Mary sat. He loved all animals, but he particularly loved this little donkey. But more than all, he loved the beautiful young woman who was so kind to him as she waited. She asked Haun about himself and Haun told her about his work and the animals that he cared for.
Haun heard his father tell Joseph that they had no room in the inn. He saw the disappointment on Mary’s face as she wondered what they would do, where they could go. All of Bethlehem was crowded. Every bed and corner already been taken.
Haun felt a queer feeling of regret settle in his stomach as he tried to think of some way to help them. As Joseph turned the donkey around and started to leave, little crippled Haun had an idea. What about his bed in the manger? Excitedly he tugged at his father’s arm as he told him his plan. When he saw by the expression on his father’s face that his father would not object, he ran after Joseph and Mary as best he could until he caught up with them. Then to this kind, friendly lady he offered his bed on the hay in the manger of the stable. Haun must have taken great pride in helping them to get settled and making them comfortable. He gave them his lantern, which was so helpful after dark.
Later that night Haun and his parents were awakened by music and voices. The stable was shining with a beautiful light. His father said, “Haun, my son, we will go to the stable and see the cause of this strange occurrence. I have never seen such a beautiful light before.” Then Haun and his father and mother went quickly to the stable behind the inn. As they walked, Japhet put his arm protectingly across Haun’s misshapen shoulder. The stable door stood open. Haun’s lantern had been lighted and hung from the rafters, and across the threshold a warm, golden yellow light fell. Joseph stood by the manger, his eyes not tired now. The beautiful lady lay upon Haun’s bed of hay and held a baby in her arms. Haun gave an exclamation of surprise. He thought, “My mother is beautiful, but this lady is like light.” Then Haun thought, “What a beautiful baby!”
In his great eagerness and haste to get a closer look he fell and sprawled awkwardly upon the stable floor toward the manger. After collecting himself, he reached up and took hold of the side of the manger and pulled himself up until his head rested against the edge of the manger bed. He was usually more humiliated than hurt when his crippled body caused him to fall, as it made him appear awkward in the presence of strangers. This time he held his lips pressed firmly together.
His embarrassment passed quickly, however, as he heard the soft voice of Mary speaking to him, saying, “Haun, I think my little son loves you very much. See, his tiny hand is laid against your head.” Then they heard the singing of the angels, and Haun felt an inner feeling that he had never known before. His crippled body arose quickly. He had never before moved with such swiftness, nor had he ever felt as happy. His head was erect; there was joy in his heart. His shadow cast upon the stable wall by the lantern now seemed tall and straight and strong.
The prophets had foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem under very humble circumstances. The Lord had also said something about using the weak in his service. Maybe Haun had been especially selected to provide his clean, comfortable place for the Christchild to be born. How happy he was that he had done his work so well, that the stable was ready and such a pleasant place. It looked so beautiful to Haun now, filled as it was with radiant golden light. These wonderful visitors were really his guests. There was no room for then in the inn and no room any place in Bethlehem, but Haun had made room in what to him was the best place of all, the stable among the animals that he loved. Later the shepherds and others also came to Haun’s stable to see the Son of God.
Haun would always remember this wonderful night, but what was more, he would remember his wonderful guests. There would always be room in his heart for the Christ, which God had directed to him. Certainly Haun would always keep own life clean, pleasant, and worthy. Who knows but that at some later day Haun may again have felt the hand of Jesus upon his head and who in all of Christ’s ministry would be more entitled to hear the Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
—Originally published in “The Christmas News” on December 20, 1949.