Most of us have had the joy of being the recipient of generous hospitality. " Hospitality is not a gift unto itself,  but a means through which other spiritual gifts are displayed: mercy, serving, giving, and evangelizing."  A dear friend has honed her gift of hospitality to a fine art.  I have never gone to her lovely home and not felt the warmth of love and welcome.  

As for me, I take hospitality in fits and starts.  During the days when I had adequate room, I loved having "easy company".  Those who were not high maintenance, accepted things as they were and did not require special accommodations.  The bed was always made and ready for someone to use, but I needed some warning to throw together a meal.  It was always handy to have all the local eateries on speed dial.  You were always welcome as long as you were not offended when I made an Irish exit at my bedtime and was up stirring around before the sun had even awakened.  My hospitality was conditional--but also open handed.  Being a creature of habit, I am not the most flexible, but the door was always open.  I had many a long term guest over the years---and enjoyed almost all of them. 

I ran across this quote and decided my gift of hospitality involves listening.  There is nothing I enjoy better than a one on one conversation--getting to really know someone.  I want to hear your story and silence does not bother me.  It is an indication of thinking going on.

What in the world does this have to do with Advent?  I thought about the innkeeper who shared his stable with the young couple.  We seldom slow down to think about the part he played in this first Christmas story, but I found when reading about the innkeeper it does come with plenty of controversy.  For the sake of writing, we are going to assume there was an innkeeper and not fall off into the crevasse of the skeptics.   If you have ever stayed in a hotel during the height of some large event, you begin to understand the stress the innkeeper was under.  The small town of Bethlehem is bursting at the seams---thanks to the government.  This is the innkeepers opportunity to make his year financially.  I think of New Orleans and next weekend's state football championships.  There is NO ROOM in the inn and the coffers are filling.  The name of the game is sell all you can while you can.   It was no different all those years ago.  The innkeeper has stuffed travelers into every available space and provided meals and fodder for the animals---all at a cost.  This is his superbowl of commerce.  His opportunity to free some of the funds from the travelers before the taxman takes his share.  He does not have time to think--much less answer a door--but he does.  He not only answers the door, but he sees the couple and takes pity upon them.  It would have been easier to slam a door with a firm NO!, but he took pity.  He offers them the only space available and they accept, and the story has been told and retold over the centuries.  I am certain after he pointed the way--he gave it no more thought.  He had no idea---his part in the story would be played over and over again in Nativity dramas by children and adult alike.  He was an important character in the Christmas story and all because he extended hospitality--even meager hospitality.  He answered the call ---provided the need---felt great compassion.  As we enter this first full week of Advent, my prayer is we all will see the need and answer with compassion.

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son

and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes

and laid Him in a manager,

because there was no place for them in the inn."

Luke 2:7

Luke 2:7

1 comment

  1. An absolutely splendid reflection, Lulu, that can teach us so much about our own willingness to show hospitality to others when it truly counts.


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