An empty manger at night under the fog.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).”

 “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19: 33-34).”

As we ponder the meaning of Jesus’ coming to earth it is worth noting that hospitality is an essential part of our salvation story!  Hospitality is woven into all of the Scriptures.  Abraham and Sarah gave food, drink, and rest to three men who turned out to be God’s messengers coming to tell them the good news that Sarah would become pregnant with Isaac.  The writer of Hebrews may have had this in mind when he wrote, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).”  And Jesus gracefully welcomed us into God’s presence even while we were sinners and enemies of God (Colossians 1: 21-22).  And then there is God himself, born a vulnerable infant into a hostile world with only a place among the animals!

During this moment in history people and governments are working to tell the difference between people who truly seeking asylum for their families and terrorists disguised as the weak and vulnerable, it is vital for those of us following Jesus to reclaim the value of hospitality.  Jesus’ followers are not called to live our lives out of fear but out of love, especially love for the stranger.

According to the Bible, God wants us to remember that we have all been strangers at one time or another.  Remember when you first moved into this area and knew no one?  Remember how it felt to start at a new school or a new job?  Who reached out to welcome you?  Who offered to help you get to know others?  Who showed you how things worked in your new environment?  Who made you feel valued and welcomed?  Jesus calls us to be those who welcome others into our lives.

So who is the stranger among us?  Who is new to our area?  Who do we not know in our neighborhood?  Who can we welcome into “our world” this Christmas as we show Christian love and hospitality?  According to Jesus, when we welcome and serve those people, we welcome and serve  him.

 

Joy on the journey,

Pastor Cameron