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We’re in full swing into the holiday season. And for many in our community across the country and globe, this is a time of get-togethers, gift-giving (and receiving) and significant religious celebration.
In our home, Thanksgiving normally serves as the official marker of the holiday season; we start with the Christmas decorations, and my daughters have Christmas music and Hallmark movies on 24/7. Marketers and companies also denote this as the official holiday season. Black Friday has traditionally been a significant shopping day in America, full of deep discounts on prized goods for gifting every year. We have even added to the pandemonium with “cyber Monday,” denoting when deals are traditionally offered by online carriers as employees return to their work desks after the long Thanksgiving weekend.
However, in addition to these two major shopping marketing strategies, there is another: giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday has been championed as an opportunity to extend generosity to charitable organizations, nonprofits and community organizations.
First let me encourage you, even if it is not on the designated day of emphasis, to close this year by giving generously to the charity of your choice this holiday season. There are too many to mention in this space, but there are a plethora of local organizations, nonprofits, churches, and other charities that do great work in our local community, supporting many causes and needs in our area.
I also want to encourage you, as you engage in giving to charity, not to neglect the biblical responsibility of hospitality. Biblical hospitality can be defined as “the practice of entertaining strangers graciously.”
A dictionary definition states hospitality as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” In a slightly broader sense, hospitality can be seen as gracious entertaining.
Now, before you tune me out, please hear me: I am not suggesting that you endanger your safety or well-being to engage in hospitality. However, I want to suggest to you, amid your everyday activities and even your holiday plans, to consider methods and measures to extend hospitality. Do you have a neighbor or colleague who cannot celebrate the holidays with their family because of distance, death, or other circumstances? They could be welcome guests at your holiday get-together.
I don’t know what measure of hospitality would work best for you, but for believers we must note that hospitality is commanded by God. Romans 12:13 (ESV) shares, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews, while encouraging those believers to stick with Christ amid pending persecution, exhorts, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:8, ESV).
Jesus, emphasizing the importance of hospitality, shares that those who inherit the kingdom of God are welcoming, stating, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35b, ESV).
Even today, among the Bedouin people of the Middle East, the traditional greeting to guests is “You are among your family.” We need more of that in our culture and community.
Charity is good and necessary. Engage in generous giving. However, while you engage in charity, don’t forget hospitality this holiday season. The friendliness of receiving someone outside of your circle or family can go a long way in giving joy, a gift that cannot be placed under a tree.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.