Forest Lake Talks

December 24 Advent Devotional

December 24, 2020

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? -Isaiah 58:7

When we think of hospitality, this what we imagine. Giving to those in need, welcoming guests into our home, and being friendly to those around us. This are truly good and noble things to do, but with the tumult that has happened so far this year, I think we can look at hospitality in another way, in a way that is needed in this time of division.

Hospitality can be done in a way where we create a space where strangers can enter and become friends instead of enemies. A space where those who have bigotry in their hearts can discover in themselves why they hold such things. A place where they are actively listened to. Hospitality wouldn’t be used to force change in people, but it creates the space where change can take place. It’s an open space where people can see what is out there and all the choices that are available to them.

As the last four years as shown, we cannot always change people’s minds with our convictions, stories, or theology. Instead, let’s try to create and offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, where every thought we/they have is not immediately attacked and dismissed, but approached with genuine curiosity on where that thought comes from. Hospitality can be a powerful force because it can provide a space where interactions of love, compassion, empathy, understanding, and grace have a chance to take place.

It’s like the Christmas truce of 1914, during WWI. No-mans-land, a place that was full of death and destruction, became a place of hospitality. Two sides that were told the other were evil, played soccer, sang hymns, and suddenly found each other’s humanity. That open space of hospitality completely changed the hearts and minds of two sides that were supposed to hate each other.

That’s what we need to do now. As we gather now for this Christmas season, let’s create spaces where warring sides can come together. Let’s work to ensure everyone sees each other’s humanity again, and be reminded that they too are children of God.

Lord, in this season when we are coming together, let us remember those whom we have excluded. Soften our hearts and allow your love to pour out of us into welcoming spaces for all your children. Help us to use that space and love to heal the wounds that divide us, and reconcile us. Help us treat the stranger as our neighbor and remember that love is how we fulfill all that you commanded us to do. May you love and peace wash over us, and may we always keep your words in our hearts. Amen.

Submitted by: Michael Ryker

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