“Everyone” I talk to this year says Christmas is a time for family. Unfortunately ours won’t make it in time this year. Neither will the family of my missionary friends who emailed me from across the pond. Nor will the families of some of the best young leaders I know in Asia or Africa.
What is “everyone” talking about?
The focus on family at Christmas can be a good thing. Family should not be taken for granted. But I wonder if we don’t sometimes overdo it. I have seen how the determination to bring an entire family together becomes so all-consuming a gift even more powerful is forgotten…hospitality.
Check it out…when Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, they were far away from their home town (Luke 2:1-3). Family for them was replaced with strangers, angels, shepherds, and magi.
Oh sure there is much to say about how the ancient mid-eastern culture treated each other and their high regard for community. But put their culture aside for a moment. Wouldn’t you have wanted some family from back home around too? Perhaps a mom or a dad to meet their newborn grandson. Mary and Joseph were not afforded the luxury of family.
Hospitality was the gift.
God the Father made sure that hospitality was extended and reciprocated. With no room in the inn, someone gave them the best shelter he could offer (Luke 2:7). Mary and Joseph then extended more hospitality as guests in someone else’s barn. They warmly included people into their most intimate moments as first time parents. In that place around a manger, an 8 day celebration for a new baby boy took place (2:21). A bright star overhead ensured no one missed the spot. Hospitality traversed cultures. Strangers from other countries brought gifts to a family they met for the first time (Matt 2:10-11). Imagine that! Everyone was welcome.
Hospitality remains the gift today.
Anyone can practice it. It requires little money. You don’t need a kitchen or an oven. You don’t even have to own the bench or the table; but you could scoot over a bit to make space for one more. Who is it you see walking by the window right now? Who will sit next to you at the Christmas event? Who do you know on your street? Why not risk some and make a little space for them?
At a restaurant yesterday, someone anonymously paid for my entire family’s meal. That simple gesture left a lasting mark on my heart. I am still a little overwhelmed. God took another opportunity to remind us of his generous hospitality. I can relate a little to Mary who “kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself (Luke 2:19).
Hospitality is an eternal gift.
Don’t forget that baby grew up as Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. If you are missing a loved one this Christmas, hear the words of Jesus “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” When all is said and done everyone who follows Jesus gets to be with him forever!
Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. (John 14:1-3)
Take a moment to share with us a response:
Have you experienced unexpected hospitality this Christmas? or
How will you extend hospitality to someone else?