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Welcome!"Botley Baptist Church is a warm, welcoming and caring Christian family", wrote a visitor."I enjoy worshipping here! It is so meaningful and refreshing", said another.We are a Bible teaching Baptist church in Botley, Oxfordand look forward to welcoming you!
"Christmas is upon us!”, spoken as if a tsunami, a tidal wave was swamping us, disrupting our schedules, upsetting our finances, playing havoc with our carefully planned routines, even disturbing our sleep! Christmas seems to take over our lives, albeit momentarily, leaving us exhausted and for many, devastated by the time the new year rolls in.
What ever happened to Good Christians all rejoice!; Peace on the earth, good will to men / From heaven's all-gracious King; Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright; Joy to the World, and the many hymns and carols each telling of unbridled joy and abounding happiness?
In the madness of Christmas, there is something in the Bible narrative which in our modern life eludes us: Hospitality and Welcome.
Our Christmas story begins with a helpless baby, delivered into a crowded and chaotic world (remember the snap census for which everyone had to go to their hometown to register?). Like the Christ-baby born in Bethlehem, each one of us started life as helpless little babies, whose every need was attended to on demand, failing which, merry hell would ensue! For years after birth, we were beings who would take and receive, but unable to give back, yet those who cared for us, did so with little reservation, and by the Grand-Hand of love, we took up permanent residence in their hearts!
They may have grumbled, sighed and collapsed with exhaustion, but unconditional hospitality was writ large across their hearts.
Could it be, I have often wondered, encountering unconditional hospitality in the early, formative years of our lives, is God’s gift to experience, then learn, and finally practice unconditional hospitality later in life?
Is it God’s plan that being dependent early on, leads to being dependable? Could it be, God’s masterplan for our lives is to learn how to gracefully receive, in order that we learn how to respectfully give with dignity?
Growing from being a “guest” in our parent’s home, sharing the resources entrusted to them, to being a “host” in our own home, sharing the resources entrusted to us, is the journey of life God has planned for each of us!
The Christmas story is filled with unconditional hospitality. Joseph, who found the news of Mary’s pregnancy difficult to accept, unconditionally welcomed Mary into their home when assured by the Angel it was proper to do so. In a city overcrowded with visitors, where the one inn was full to overflowing, Mary and Joseph find unconditional hospitality in a home where the manger was prepared for Mary’s child to be born.
Hospitality is at the heart of the Christmas story, and the beauty of this welcome is that it is unconditional even in the most inconvenient of times.
It is God unconditional hospitality that invites us to consider and to accept Jesus as the Messiah, sent by the Father to restore our relationship with him, that whoever unconditionally welcomes Jesus as God’s Messiah, shall enjoy eternity in the company of Creator God, Father of us all!
Perhaps this Christmas might be the best time to consider whether we are “guests” in this world, taking what we can, or we are responsible “hosts”, who despite any inconvenience, unconditionally welcome those in need of food, shelter, company, friendship and love.
The only way I know to grow from “guest” to “host”, is by first accepting God’s unconditional hospitality and welcome His His Son, as Saviour of this World.
Yours wanting very much to be the host who welcomes without condition,
If you are new to Botley, North Hinksey, Cumnor (and surrounding areas) or to Botley Baptist Church, or have been worshipping here for a long time and wish to explore more about Church life, Baptist beliefs and how you can participate in the life of the Church, you are most welcome to join us on Wednesday 11th December, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Das' home.
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