Open Heart, Open Home

Christmas 2021

Dear family and friends,

Christmas is forever linked to hospitality because of Luke. The Evangelist includes the detail of absence in Bethlehem for the birth of our Savior. No one knew who he was.

And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

The irony of the incarnated Son of God in a feeding trough exists because there was no room left in the local lodge. The glut of travelers, who were obligated to register for the census in their hometown, caused the shortage.

Fortunately, during our programmed six-month home assignment, we never lacked a place for us. Our daughter and her husband graciously invited us to stay with them in Aurora, Colorado, whenever we were not traveling among Alliance churches. (The day we arrived in May they surprised us with the news that they were expecting their first child! We are excited to be abuelos early in the New Year!)

And travel we did. Our tour calendar took us far from Colorado to upstate New York, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois. Over these last six months, between the two of us, we have reported, clarified and inspired 35 churches with what God continues to do in Spain.

And everywhere we went we received hospitality. We stayed in simple houses and sumptuous ones, spacious houses and cramped ones, quiet houses and boisterous ones. The commonality in all of them is that they were not just houses—places to stay—but homes. Homes with fellow followers of Jesus that received us generously and graciously in his name.

Though “tour” (as we call it in the Alliance) could be considered an inefficient use of time, for us “breaking bread from house to house, sharing table with glad and generous hearts” (Acts  2:46) was invaluable. Showing hospitality is truly a hallmark of authentic love as Paul enjoins in Romans 12. We bless all of you who opened your homes or shared your table with us.

We value it so much because is vital to our ministry. Pre-Covid, Marilyn and I had people in our home for meals about twice a week. We missed this dearly during the pandemic. For five of the last seven years we have had several young adults living with us in our apartment in Tres Cantos. We look forward to getting back to sharing our safe space again!

Hospitality has power, no matter how simple and basic. Marilyn was humbled by the hospitality of impoverished Honduran women in a mountain village in 1981. God called her to mission there. That same year Tim was humbled by the hospitality of Cambodian refugees toward my parents in the camps in Thailand. Welcome and honor and attention in the humblest of spaces are all that are really necessary.

I learned this fall that the number one desire of international students who come to study is to be invited into an American home. Many Spanish exchange students we have met in Spain over the years have been deeply impacted, some even to faith by Christian host families. Most of the English Camp monitors from 2004-2016 would say that the most memorable and lasting part of their experience in Tres Cantos was two weeks in the homes of Spanish host families. Some friendships last to this day. Hospitality is a genuine biblical value that we must not lose because of the pandemic. Opening our home can mean opening our heart in friendly reception of beloved guests, passing visitors and even strangers (yet-to-be-friends!).

With grateful hearts,

Tim and Marilyn

 

*published with permission from the authors

An Alliance worker

One Response to “Open Heart, Open Home”

  1. So appreciated your letter on hospitality. I do often felt the same way when l was on home assignment from Colombia. Thanks so much for sharing.

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