1 Peter 4:8-10 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (NIV)
When I think of hospitality, the image that comes to mind is my golden retriever's greeting for my son. When my son comes back for a Christmas visit, she absolutely throws herself at him. Tail wagging and tongue lolling, she barks her welcome. She lets him know that he is exactly the person she has been longing to see. She jumps up to kiss his face, then rolls to her back and whimpers her adoration. She showers his hands with doggie kisses as he scratches her fur. She ecstatically welcomes him home.
Why can't we people be as welcoming? Maybe not quite so effusively (and certainly not by licking each other's hands), but joyously welcoming, nonetheless. Now, I do realize that it's not always easy to greet an unexpected guest at dinner time when we have already watered down the soup to make it stretch. It's hard to put on a cheerful face when we have had more month than paycheque or when we've had no paycheque at all. It's hard to admit that we needed to go to the food bank for groceries last week or maybe that a Christmas hamper is supplying our holiday table.
For those of us who've been abundantly blessed, however, we find that sharing is easier at Christmas. The reason is the love factor. Because we love as Christ has loved us, we share in concrete ways. One such way is by supporting the food bank. It is one way to "offer hospitality". Another is to include someone who is alone in our family Christmas — with a gift under the tree and a dinner with trimmings. Still another takes a casserole, meatloaf, or homemade bread to a needy neighbour. For some it may mean opening our homes to those who need a place to live. For another, it may well be caring for someone in their time of illness. Offering "hospitality" is one of the marks of Christian love that makes God's grace concrete, understandable, and experiential. As we share, God pours His grace through us to others.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have been extremely generous to us. When You were born in a stable as a poor and indigent baby, You poured out Your love for us. Enable us now to show Your love with great abandon to others. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.