This week we have been doing one of the things that our Christian community, The People of Praise, does regularly all over the United States: we’ve been a ‘household.’ We aren’t the only ones doing this, from the looks of Instagram, but everyone else calls it ‘having house guests.’
Having someone stay at your house is inconvenient. You have to be sensitive to more people’s bed times, you have to wait an extra rotation on the bathroom (we only have one!), you have to NOT walk around the house in your boxers but actually take a minute to put on your pajamas and DEFINITELY close the door when you use the bathroom (we only have one!)
At the same time, there really is something holy about the whole ordeal. Keith Hueftle has a whole book on the grace-lovingkindness-hesed of God shown in the Bible through hospitality. As we are continually considering others better than ourselves with our houseguest, we are given a chance to fulfill what Jesus said-
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. – John 13:34
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
Of all of the various spiritual exercises we do, don’t they all turn us from convenience and comfort towards fulfilling something that the Lord wants to do, as a practical activity (give somebody a place to stay) and as a spiritual one (help work out areas that I’m selfish) all at the same time? What is even better is that it is over Christmas, so all of our family gatherings, driving around town, and hustle and bustle (a phrase we only use during Christmas?!) have an extra player in the game. (Literally, we have an almost perpetual board game going on through December and she is always able and willing to join in and play.)
Joseph and Mary were house guests, since they had to leave their normal home and go back to Joseph’s family’s house to be counted in a census. All of the reality of travel and couch-surfing is often lost when we see the abandoned cottage with a few animals in it around Christmas.
It was crowded, they were away from home, a baby was being born, and stranger shepherds were showing up out of nowhere to give them compliments and be amazed.
Praise God for the greater reality He shows us every day about the real life of His Son and the Nativity on Earth.
Merry Christmas, dear reader. Now I have to go hit the shower before everyone wakes up. (We only have one bathroom!)