I enjoy hosting people and parties. Opening my home to food, friends, and fellowship brings me great joy, yet sometimes the preparation can rob the “welcome” from my heart. When I think of “welcome”, I think of openness. Openness of home as well as openness of heart. Other distractions can so easily creep in and close my heart off to the true joy of hospitality. Evidence of this is reveled in overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety and irritability.
To be hospitable is not defined by gourmet food, dazzling décor, or a tidy home. Being hospitable is opening my heart and home as a place of welcome, where the focus is on who I am welcoming, and preparing for.
As we enter into the season of advent, we can forget to place the welcome mat out for our Savior. Christmas lists leave Him out; calendars don’t even pencil Him in.
What needs to change for you to have the welcome mat out for the Savior?
• One less party
• One less gift
• One less decoration
• One less hour at the mall
• One less Christmas card sent! (What if you skipped them all together…gasp)
Let me make a shift to the story of Rahab. Rahab lived in the city of Jericho, which was fortified with great walls. Rahab’s home was actually right within the outer wall of the city. Her place of residence was strategic to her occupation of welcoming men, for she was a prostitute. Rahab’s typical welcome was to that which robbed her, until the day she welcomed 2 spies from the Israelite army.
After wandering in the desert for 40 years, God’s chosen people, the Israelites were entering into the land God had promised them. Part of this Promised Land included the city of Jericho. These particular Israelite men were sent into Jericho on a reconnaissance mission to spy out the city and prepare for its siege. As mentioned, Rahab welcomed these men into her home. She quickly gained an understanding of who they were and offered them protection, hiding them from the soldiers of Jericho. This offer of sanctuary soon became her salvation.
Rahab was aware God Almighty had been leading the Israelites. She heard testimony of the miraculous conquests that had carried them to this point. Believing Jericho would soon be delivered into the hands of the Israelites by God Almighty, gave Rahab the courage to extend a welcome that would soon become her rescue. The protective welcome birthed into a plan for her own protection. The Israelite men explained to Rahab to place a scarlet chord out the window to identify her home as the one home that would remain unharmed when the battle for Jericho ensued.
The Israelites did indeed conquer the city of Jericho, and Rahab’s red chord hung vividly from her window, providing salvation for her and those in her family.
When Rahab changed the welcome of her heart it resulted in redeeming rescue.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
On this, the first day of advent, I leave you with lyrics from the beloved Christmas Carol Joy to the World and a challenge to prepare room and lay out the welcome mat for Jesus:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing