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Advent 1

Weekly Worship from Chaplain Josh

‘No room at the Premier-inn’: Radical Hospitality in Christmas.

Did you know that there are a few characters who we often see in the Nativity plays, that aren’t actually in the Christmas Story! 

One of these is the Innkeeper!

We have created the role of innkeeper because the English word ‘inn’ in the story suggests a hotel-like place that Mary and Joseph visited. However, the Greek word we have translated as inn is better translated as ‘guest room.’ Imagine it just like the spare room in a home, where relatives would normally stay. The best answer is that Mary and Joseph travelled to a public house or a relative’s house, but the spare rooms were full, so they had to stay with the animals in a lower level of the house. It was very common for people to keep their animals inside their own home at that time in history.  

Image of crib Pixabay free license

We have no innkeeper in our story, but there are still many truths in the story that remain. 

One of these truths is that God showed us he is a loving, radically hospitable God. In response, we need to be a loving, radically hospitable community.

What do you think it means to be hospitable?

Hospitality is the offering of unbiased, accommodating love to whoever we encounter. I think one of the best expressions of hospitality in our world currently is the inspiring UK families who have welcomed 120,000 Ukrainian refugees into their homes. Their hospitality provided a safe space for strangers to live, and their radical love has transformed the lives of so many.

God showed true hospitality in the Christmas story. He gathered the out-casted shepherds, the distant Wise Men and his own angels all to be together. Everyone was welcome to know the love that was freely given, through Jesus. Christmas brings the invitation to be part of God’s family, in which we are all loved and welcomed by God… no matter who we are or what we’ve done. God opens his hospitable heart to us all.

What about us? How do we show hospitality to others?

Our world is full of brokenness, hostility and conflict. Hospitality is often the healing strength and powerful vehicle of change in response to these challenges. There will be so many people in your life who need to know they are loved, and you can be a powerful demonstration of that love. 

Here are some ideas to help you think about how you can show hospitality to others:

1. Always be respectful of each other’s stories, backgrounds and heritages.
2. Share what you have with those who may not have the same as you.
3. Invite someone to hang out with you after school if you think they’d appreciate a new friendship!
4. Don’t just be kind to those you know but offer kindness to everyone you meet. 

So… the question is, for this Christmas and beyond, how can you show real hospitality to the world around you?

To finish, let’s reflect on the words of Christine Sine. 

‘Christmas is…
not a time for complacency, but for commitment,
not a time for hate, but for love,
not a time to close doors, but to open them,
not a time for violence, but for peace,
not a time to wound, but to heal,
not a time to bring division, but to inspire reconciliation.’


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