Jim Hughes Welcomes the Innkeeper to Church (12/23/18)

Posted by on Dec 17, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Rev. Jim Hughes visited PUMC on Sunday 12/23/18, and as usual, he didn’t come alone. This year he came with Bartholomew (husband of Rebecca). We don’t know this man’s real name (or if he even had a wife); we just know him as “The Innkeeper.”   He was the man in Bethlehem who had no room in his inn but offered Mary and Joseph his stable (see Luke 2:1-7). And, according to Rev. Hughes, history has given him a bum rap…

Jim Hughes has been in the ministry of first person drama and music for almost 40 years, and it’s always a blessing when he visits our church. He has “appeared” at our church many times over the years, and he is a regular speaker during the Pitman Camp Meeting each  summer.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Silent Night

Bartholomew entered the sanctuary singing Silent Night. He had a story to tell. His story began some 30 years ago on a busy night in Bethlehem. The people were feeling oppressed. They wanted a King who would break the yoke of the Roman Empire. They felt that they were always getting the short end of the stick. And when Bartholomew’s story began, the only thing the people got was another tax. Another burden from the Roman Empire.

They were tired of silence; they wanted a Messiah who would turn Rome upside down. Instead they got a suffering servant who turned over tables in the temple.

But even if they didn’t realize it, on this silent night they received much much more.



About nine months earlier, an angel came to Mary to tell her that she was going to have a baby. Having an angel standing in front of you is big enough news. But add on the facts that Mary was a virgin and that she was going to give birth to the Son of God, and Mary must have felt totally overwhelmed. And yet, God choose HER. She must have had a lot of faith.

She and Joseph obeyed God and gave their son the name, Jesus. In song, Bartholomew reflected on Mary’s adoration of her son…. God’s Son.

“The only Name worth singing of… Wonderful Name, Jesus…”



One night, after the birth of his Son, Joseph and Bartholomew went out for a walk. Bartholomew recalled being impressed at how righteous a man Joseph was. As they walked, they talked and prayed. Joseph felt a tremendous burden and joy at the prospect of raising a son. It was up to him to teach the scriptures to his son, to teach him right from wrong.

And yet, his son… was God’s Son! How could he raise God’s Son? How could he teach God’s Son???

Bartholomew recalled Joseph’s feelings by singing…

“How Can it Be?… this baby, the Son of God?…

He’s not my own; not of my flesh, not of my bone…
How can a man be a father to the Son of God? How can he raise the King?…

He cries, and the sun disappears. He laughs and the sun shines again…

How can it Be?”


The Innkeeper

It wasn’t an ordinary night for this innkeeper. Encountering Mary, Joseph and Jesus and seeing all that happened, changed Bartholomew’s life. Mary pondered Jesus’ birth in her heart, but it was something that also stuck in Bartholomew’s mind. One night, Mary and Joseph left Bethlehem with Jesus (rumor had it that they had quietly slipped out of Bethlehem on the road that headed south- towards Egypt). Joseph, always the honorable and righteous man, left the innkeeper’s pay on the bed. The holy family left the city, but this encounter was something that the Bartholomew would never forget.

Some thirty years after this encounter, Bartholomew heard about some rabbi in Galilee preaching about the Kingdom. He immediately knew it was Jesus. One day, Jesus traveled to Bethlehem. But when he left Bethlehem this time, Bartholomew didn’t stay behind. He followed Jesus. He was with Him that day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds waved palm branches and shouted “Hosanna!” He saw Jesus overturn the tables in the temple, he saw Him condemned at a mock trial, and he saw Him crucified.  Then he saw Him alive again.

And now as Bartholomew looks back at all he saw, he can’t remember the birth without remembering the meaning for the birth. Nobody noticed when Jesus was born. And yet, His birth was as if God was stretching out His loving arms out wide for me and you. Bethlehem is more than a memory; more than just the celebration of a birth or even of angels. That first Christmas morning is more than a historical event; the Bethlehem Spirit never dies. This Child that was born came to set us free: free from worries, free from anger, free from worldly passions.

Bartholomew sang the meaning of Bethlehem…

“Bethlehem Morning, Bethlehem Sunrise…

See Him in your eyes…

The Child born there- the King of Kings…

He has come to set us free”

Bartholomew concluded by saying “some critics may think that I’ve been brainwashed. Too many long nights in the inn. Too much wine. Too many memories. But at least I have the freedom to choose who washes my brain!”  Bartholomew made room in his heart for Jesus.

All of us are slaves to worldly passions. But the Bethlehem Sunrise (or sOnrise!) means that we can be free from these passions. Jesus’ birth made room for the Lamb’s Sacrifice, which ripped open the curtain that separated us from God.  We can have peace and purpose.

Who have you invited to church; to your moments of quiet thought?  Do YOU know this Jesus?


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For more information, here’s the article that announced this service…

Announcement Post

Jim Hughes to Bring a Visitor to PUMC on Sunday! (12/23/18)…

Rev. Jim Hughes always brings a visitor with him when he comes to church.  His guest usually isn’t a co-worker or friend from down the street.  No, Rev. Hughes usually brings someone who he met in the Bible!

Over the years, we’ve seen Jim introduce us to people such as Thomas, Judas, and John.  He’s even portrayed unnamed characters such as one of the people present when a paralytic’s friends carved a hole through the roof of Peter’s house. He’s “appeared” at our church many times, and He’s an annual speaker at the Pitman Camp Meeting.

Rev. Hughes has a unique ministry of drama and music, and he will be sharing with us on Sunday December 23 2018.  On this special Sunday (the last before Christmas), we will hold only one service- at 10:15 AM.

Rev Jim Hughes

  • Sunday December 23
  • 10:15 (only one service)


Here’s an article about his most recent visit to Pitman.  It was at the Pitman Camp Meeting, and he brought his friend Thomas…

No One Escapes the Cross… Do They? (Camp Meeting 7/15/18)



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