Martin Luther once said, “Where the Church is, there is hospitality.” To be the people of God is to extend God’s acceptance and welcome not only to the people we know and like, but to the stranger and the exile. We have acceptance; we have eternal welcome; we, who were once foreigners and enemies, have been made part of the family.
And now the God of Christmas and Incarnation sends us out to incarnate Christmas, to be a word of divine acceptance and welcome to a strange and foreign world.
How many office parties or family events will you host or attend this month? Whether you are guest or host, look for ways to extend the hospitality of Jesus to the people gathered there. Go out of your way to make a fringe family member feel accepted. Look for a chance to put a stranger at ease. Make the most foreign guest feel most at home.
When you do, you are simply extending the welcome and acceptance Jesus gives you. You are welcome in the Lord’s house; you are part of Jesus’ family; you can stay as long as you like, and God will shelter you, and feed you, and give you a place to call home. Hospitality is the Gospel in action. You have been accepted. You have been welcomed. And now you are God’s Christmas Party Invitation to the world.
Romans 15:4-7 (NIV)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe,
you were welcomed to this world
by the hands of simple peasants,
the straw of a crude manger,
and the worship of common shepherds.
Yet you came in this humble way so you could welcome me
to your Kingdom that knows no end.
Give me courage and endurance.
Give me confidence in your acceptance.
Teach me to welcome others and
accept them in your name. Amen.