This is my first year in full-time ministry, and the assorted Christmas celebrations are in full swing: Christingle, Carers and Toddlers Christmas Party, and Senior Citizens Christmas lunch. Through the hive of activity in the kitchen, at the table, in the hand shake, and even the wave to the little person in the pushchair; all of these things made me think about the welcome of God. The season of advent is about preparation, preparing our hearts and lives for God who comes to us in the person of Jesus. This time of year we swing wide the church doors and welcome folk from our community around, we share with them the story and celebration of God. Although we do this throughout the year, there is something about the advent message that speaks about finding space for God to come. We are called to find space for Him in the stranger, in the child, in the humanness of our existence. As we prepare to find room for others, making them feel welcome, offering them hospitality and kindness we are indeed finding room for Christ Himself.
For the Christmas story starts with God loving the world so much. It starts with God stretching out towards us, wanting to get near to us, and involved in our lives. Advent is a time to prepare our hearts, to have our arms open, and the palm of our hands facing upwards. Its a time to welcome God with us, welcoming the humanness of God in the poor, in the stranger, in the weak, and in the distressed. May our hearts be prepared in finding the welcome of God in the smile and presence and of the ‘other’ that we might find the unexpected hospitality in the guest.