Do you practice hospitality at Christmas time? Do you open your doors and invite others to celebrate Jesus with you?
In our town we have a young, transient population and there are very few extended families which means most people are far away from their families. Christmas can be a tough time for these people.
Both Peter and I grew up in homes of hospitality. Though our mums opened their homes (and kitchens) in different ways, it is our heritage to be hospitable. It is hard sometimes to continue these traditions when you don’t live near your family. Hard may not be the right word, but you have to be intentional about it. You have to decide to go out of your way and be hospitable.
Our stories of Hospitality
One Christmas morning, actually it was Jessica’s first Christmas, after church Pete headed out to the farm to check on things while I put the final touches to our fully cooked traditional Christmas lunch (I don’t do traditional lunch these days – but I hadn’t learnt that by this stage!) When Pete came home he had a visitor with him. The man refused to come in to join with our lunch so Pete took a plate out to him on the veranda. It was a bit odd, but Pete filled me in with the story later on. Apparently, as Pete drove up our farm drive way he saw a tractor driving out. Hey! That’s my tractor! The man, had been dropped off in the middle of the bush at the back of our place, very drunk the night before. He had wandered around, not having a clue where he was, found the tractor and decided to drive it to town. Pete made him drive the tractor back to the shed, then he offered him Christmas lunch!
Another year Pete was annoyed with himself for not inviting a couple of backpackers he met at church home for Christmas dinner. So late in the afternoon, he went door knocking on all the backpackers in town, till he found this Sweedish couple. They had only a smattering of English but it was one of the best Christmas dinners we’ve had. The thing that I particularly like, in remembering this story, is that it teaches our children their heritage of being hospitable.
Another time I was buying our Christmas seafood (by this time we moved from traditional roast lunch, to a very casual seafood lunch) and got talking to the lady behind the counter. When I got home I regretted not asking this couple to lunch. So I picked up the phone, introduced myself as the lady who had bought x-amount of seafood and invited them to come along. They did, and it was the beginning of a friendship that lasted while these people lived in our town. It was very weird phoning back with an invite – but I’m so glad that I did.
Create a tradition of inviting others in
I don’t say these stories to brag about the things that we’ve done, because as I thought about those stories, I was challenged with the fact that I only had three stories to tell you – and we’ve celebrated over 20 Christmases together! But these stories are the basis for a tradition that has been established in our home. Christmas night is open house. We invite friends and acquaintances to come along, especially if they are missing family at this time of year. They all bring their left overs (if they have any) and we have a great time of food and fellowship together.
Why is it important to be hospitable at Christmas time? Well, I guess we should be hospitable all through the year, but at Christmas time we are particularly aware of the love that God showed us by sending his son to us, as a babe.
As Christians we talk about being Christ focused at Christmas time, and being hospitable is one way, one very tangible way that we keep our focus on God’s heart.
By opening our house on Christmas evening – whether to strangers or to people we know, our family has to put aside everything that Christmas day brings in order to be a blessing to whoever knocks on our door. This means they have to put away all gifts to be enjoyed at another time, sometimes it means they have had to wait to open a particular gift, it means they have to clean up the house a little in preparation for guests. When our family is relaxed and enjoying each other’s company (not to mention the new gifts we have) then it is very much an intentional decision to put it all away so we can be a blessing to others.
But this attitude starts well before Christmas day – it starts early December as we start to meet people, and see who is going to be by themselves. We start issuing invitations – trusting God that those who need to be invited will cross our paths before Christmas dinner time! We also trust God that all who come will fit, and that there will be enough food. One year the table certainly had more desserts than main course, though there were no complaints about that really!
So as you are planning your Christmas celebrations this year, think of ways to include your neighbours, your friends and maybe even a stranger or two!
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