Christmas is a time for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart
3rd December 2020
‘Christmas is a time for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart’. (Washington Irving 1783-1859)
We often hear people say that ‘Christmas is a time for families’ and whilst gathering with our nearest and dearest is often a feature of the season, for many this emphasis can feel rather exclusive. This year of course things could indeed be different, as restrictions due to lockdown may prevent us from getting together with our families in the usual way.
So perhaps it is a good time to reflect on the virtue of hospitality which reaches beyond family to our ‘neighbour’ in the wider sense.
Hospitality is about extending our goodwill beyond blood families and enlarging our sphere of concern to those who do not belong to it.
And hospitality is a constant and consistent theme throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament God commanded the Hebrews to remember their exile and oppression in Egypt and allow it to motivate hospitality to foreigners. “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34 ESV)
So the Old Testament teaches that we should love others even the ‘stranger’ and ‘do unto others as you’d have them do unto you’. This is an injunction to hospitality and in the New Testament Jesus as a faithful Jew, echoes it again and again in his teaching, most memorably through his parable of the Good Samaritan.
It’s both natural and easy to show hospitality to those we know and love and that’s why teaching the importance of hospitality that reaches beyond family and friends is so important.
So this Christmas, let us find the ‘time for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart’. That is after all, what the Christmas message is all about. Happy Christmas everyone.