Dear Innkeepers,

(An open letter to Salvation Army Corps Officers during the Christmas season.)

We are praying for your Inns.

We are praying for your places of business that have been completely overrun by the season.  Every room is full.  There is no extra space.  You have stored toys in your offices, red kettles and bells in your kitchen, and money-counting equipment in your janitor’s closet.  You have a delivery of turkeys coming in and all your freezers are full.  You will have to store food-pantry overstock in classrooms, bookcases and supply closets simply because those are the only places where there’s any space left.

We are praying for your time.  You will have to keep the Inns running, as full as they are, and still manage so many other responsibilities.  You will feed people, clothe people, care for people and you may occasionally forget to do the same for yourself.  You will be pulled between the Inn and your family, between the ministry and simply being a Dad or a Mom, or sometimes both.  You may have to choose between a school Christmas concert and the Inn.

We are praying for your Inns.

We are praying for your endurance.  You will travel the village, city, county, or region where your Inn is located to collect all the things your Inn requires.  You will send representatives of your Inn, some of them chosen desperately, to be your ambassadors and to wear the name of your Inn in all that they do.  They will be blessed, yes, even that one.  You will forget someone, somewhere, sometime.   You will have to make difficult decisions, probably more than a few of them.

We are praying for your priorities.  With the rooms of your Inns bursting at the seams, we are praying that you will remember why you run an Inn in the first place.  The Inn is needed.  With the tenants of the Inn being so transient, you will find little time to know them.  They are not all there to meet the Innkeeper, but they need the Innkeeper’s work.  We are praying that you meet their needs completely and without reservation.  Give more than they ask for, love more than you can, do more than you should.

We are praying for your Inns.

We are praying for your sanity.  In one moment, you will face demanding and exasperating expectations.  In the next you will be receiving a cardboard donation in front of a camera while you try to remember if it’s Rotary or United Way before you say your “thank you”s.  You will pick up canned goods from a grocery store and your kids from their Elementary school and you might forget which one you go to next.  You will hear bells ringing in your sleep and you may offer the person serving you coffee a receipt for your change while you thank her for the donation.

We are praying for your families.  Your husbands and wives will understand, almost all of the time.  Your children will want to be helpful, even when they aren’t.  You will have a crisis of conscience and wish you were somewhere else, hoping deeply that this isn’t the thing your kids regret.  Hug often and hug strong.  It will get you, and them, through.

We are praying for your Inns.

We are praying for your moments.  We are praying for those moments when the Inn is at its’ fullest and you have to try and find room for just one more person.  We are praying for those moments when you have no place to put them and no way to meet their need but you know you have to try.  We are praying for the wisdom for you to remember that there is one more place, even if it’s just a stable, or a basement, or a garage.

We are praying that when people show up to worship, you realize it’s not about the Inn or the Innkeeper, or the rooms or the problems.  It’s about the miracle.

We are praying that even when you are caught up in the fast-paced and fleeting nature of running the Inn, you can step back for just a moment and get a glimpse of the eternal.

We are praying that your Inn is the brightest light wherever you live.

We are praying for your Inns.

We are praying for you.




  • To the writer:

    Thank you for your prayers and attention to the concerns and blessings of the Christmas season here at our Inn. The warmth, companionship and solidarity felt among the hands that help, the residents and the weary travelers in this facility, this area, this territory way up north in the White Mountains is palpable, at the very least.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you for your prayers! It is always wonderful to know that there are people that stand in the gap for us, as we serve others, along with our staff and many volunteers.

  • That’s Chris!

  • Major LauraLou Swires December 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Thank you for your writing…and prayers. I am the mom of two “Innkeepers” … You know know them … Geoffrey and Bryden. I ope they see this and are leased by it. God bless you!

  • Thank you for this reminder today!! Thank you for your genuine concern and prayers. So glad you are part of our family. May our Lord bless your ministry today.

  • Lt. Dabiel Valdes December 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Thank You Chris.

    This prayer blessed my life. You are tottaly describing our inn here in Easton. Blessings my friend.. once again, Thank You.

  • Captain Andrew Watkinson December 11, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Dear Writer, thank you for your prayers. During the busyness of the season we do need these reminders. God’s richest blessings on you and yours during this Christmas season.

  • Thank you Chris. I’m reading this a little late but it is still a good reminder and a blessing just the same.

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