Tuesday, December 19

On being hosts and guests…

For those at BCC you'll see the following in the church newsletter this week (hey, we emergent types are all for recycling!)...

I was deeply struck by the story in the paper this week of the Orkney minister who opened his home for Christmas lunch to all on the island who were lonely. There’s something about radical – even reckless – hospitality that speaks of God to me. After all, God is pictured in Luke 14 as a host who holds a party and instructs his servant to “go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” and even pulls people in from the streets to fill his house. What recklessness! Our God: the radical host.

In this story of course, the invited guests refuse to go to the party. Are we prepared to allow God to be our host? Can we receive gifts from him? Or do we, like Peter, say “No, you shall never wash my feet” (John 13:8).

I watched ‘The Da Vinci Code’ the other night (I know I'm a couple of years behind - always have been!). Apart from its obvious confusion of fact and fiction, the thing that struck me most was that, for the characters in the story, the big scandal – one the Church would kill to cover up – was that Jesus might have been married (or even a father). For me, the greater scandal is that God might have (and did!) become man. The ‘scandal’ of Christmas is that the divine and human touched. God, the consummate host of creation, became its guest: a guest in a stable, a guest at a wedding, and a guest at many a supper. Mary was, for nine months, host to God. God made himself vulnerable – and was a guest of humanity.

This Christmas, and in the year to come, we will have many opportunities to be hosts to our community – and maybe “entertain angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2)! We will also have time to be guests of God – as he seeks to go on (as he always has) giving us gifts and inviting us to feasts. Let us be humble guests, allowing the Saviour to “wash our feet”. And let us, like God, take the risk of radical hospitality and welcome in “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” without judgement. Above all, “by thought, by prayer, by every tried and untried means, let us do all that we possibly can to make known that astonishing mystery, which is also a historical fact, that God became one of us so that we might become like Him.” (J. B. Phillips).

Emmanuel: God is with us! Happy Christmas!

image: Christina Saj, Madonna and Child (1998)


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