Forest Lake Talks

December 21 Advent Devotional

December 21, 2020

  • “Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.” – Romans 12:10
  • “Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. ” – Romans 12:13
  • Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:1-2
  • “Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. Open your homes to each other without complaining. And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10

A search of the word hospitality on the internet returned this definition: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers; Synonyms listed are: friendliness; hospitableness; welcome; warm reception; helpfulness; neighborliness; warmth; warm-heartedness; kindness; kind-heartedness; congeniality; geniality; sociability; conviviality; cordiality; amicability; amenability; generosity; liberality; bountifulness; and open-handedness.

I think one of the ways to understand and apply the command in John 13:34-35 (I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other) is to think about hospitality and its definition. The Bible illustrates for us repeatedly how significant the act of being hospitable and breaking bread with one another were to society and relationships.

We find ourselves currently in a very divided world and it seems that we are stuck in our ability to open our hearts and minds to another’s viewpoint. Maybe, we need to go back to the basics and begin with hospitality. Conversations and dialogue over a shared meal are far more intimate as every person shares in a basic human need: food.

Food truly is a universal language and one we all speak. When you break bread with someone and when you watch another eat as you eat, a bond begins to form. The words do not matter yet; the connection does. My family life growing up revolved around food. I remember vividly large family gatherings and loud conversations. I remember quiet, sad times during a meal as well as angry exchanges. I remember watching the faces of the folks around the table and I remember that the sharing of a meal is what kept everyone connected even in times of major conflict. You had to show up to dinner and so conversation was inevitable, and you did not get up until the meal was finished which meant continued communication was also inevitable. Everyone could share (even though I usually got the look because I was young). Through the sharing and the connection of the meal, thoughts passed from one to another. Different ideas were introduced. Hearts and minds were sometimes opened. Above all, everyone had a chance to speak and be heard without condemnation or belittling. I love food! It is one of my love languages.

As I think about the season of Advent and preparing for the coming of Christ, I am reminded of the many opportunities we will have to gather. I pray that each one of us will think about the gathering and hospitality more than the differing viewpoints. I pray that we recognize that a basic human need universal to all of God’s children is a need to break bread and have connection. We are all created different by design. May we look at the synonyms listed above and act them out. In this way, we will demonstrate our love for God and for all His children. May we embrace our differences and celebrate them whilst remembering that we have far more in common than we do not and may we always remember that we will never look into the eyes of another whom you do not also love (this last thought is not my own but I cannot find a reputable source).

Gracious and Loving God, We give you thanks for the abundance that you have given us. We have so many choices and options in so many things. We know this is not true for all your children. Lord, as we go about each day and begin to get fired up over the people in our lives who we disagree with and struggle with, help us to reach out and offer an invitation for a meal. Help us, Lord, to engage in hospitality and to practice friendliness, warmth, kindness, and generosity with joy! Remind us, Lord, each day of how we are similar and erase our differences (especially those we create for ourselves). Lord, in your Scriptures, there are countless examples of what hospitality looks like. Enable us all to become an example also. Be with us, bless us, and challenge us, Lord, to be radical in our discipleship and follow in the example of Jesus Christ who broke bread with those that no one else would. Amen.

Submitted by: Anita Poole

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