Posted on December 3, 2023 | Posted by Mary Stoneback
On November 26, we prepared for Advent as a community with an Advent Coloring Fest. The posters have the words, ‘Joy’ and ‘Love’ on them and the completed pieces are now hanging in the sanctuary. In the process of preparing them for the sanctuary, I experienced unexpected hospitality. In line waiting to get the pieces framed, I had a conversation with another couple about the posters. I shared they were pieces colored by members of all ages and would be hung in the sanctuary through the Advent season. Before leaving, the couple handed me money to pay for the framing. Their kindness brought tears to my eyes. We shared hugs, blessings and parted ways.
As we journey through the season of Advent, a time of anticipation and reflection, let us pause to consider the profound beauty of unexpected hospitality—a theme woven into the very fabric of the Christmas story. At the heart of this story is the birth of Christ, a divine moment marked by humility and simplicity.
Think back to that holy night in Bethlehem, when Mary and Joseph sought refuge in a humble stable. In the midst of the darkness, a stranger’s manger became a sanctuary. This unlikely place, meant for animals, became the cradle that held the hope of the world. It was an unexpected turn of events, a demonstration of hospitality that transcended societal norms.
In the same way, Christ’s entry into our lives often takes us by surprise. It is a reminder that divine grace doesn’t always manifest in grandiose ways but can be found in the quiet, overlooked corners of our existence. The invitation to welcome Christ into our hearts mirrors the unexpected hospitality of the innkeeper who, despite the crowded inn, made room for the holy family.
This Advent, let us be attuned to the unexpected acts of kindness and generosity that surround us. The stranger who extends a helping hand, the neighbor who offers a listening ear—these moments echo the hospitality of that sacred manger. They serve as reminders that, like the innkeeper, we too have the opportunity to make space for the extraordinary in the ordinary aspects of our lives.
As we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth, let the spirit of unexpected hospitality inspire us to open our hearts to the presence of the divine. Just as the manger welcomed the newborn King, may our lives be a dwelling place for love, compassion, and grace. In these moments of unexpected encounters, we glimpse the beauty of Christ breaking into our lives, just as He did through the simple, welcoming manger.