Hospitality unites people. It helps us find room to help others in need and is the antidote to hostility and division. This holiday season, especially in these times of intense division, we should all practice this virtue and apply its power to strengthen relationships at home, work, with our fellow citizens, and even strangers. In the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20), Mary was in labor while her husband, Joseph, sought shelter. The innkeeper had no available rooms, but seeing Mary’s desperate situation, offered the holy family shelter in a stable where the animals resided.
There is a thoughtful piece on grace circulating on Facebook that I have amplified and maximized with apologies to the unknown author. Grace constitutes unearned or unmerited favor. She is seen throughout the Bible. Grace means promotion, not based on qualifications. When she speaks, protocols are suspended. So, King Ahasuerus extends the scepter to his Queen Esther. With Grace at work, laws are set aside for a higher purpose. A hungry David understood this when he ate consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:6). Jesus commended his insight because “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). A Samaritan woman with five different husbands was blessed by a thirsty grace-giving Savior. An adulteress experienced no stones from a sin-convicted crowd. When Grace acts, pedigrees and ethnic background are irrelevant, so Joseph, the Hebrew prisoner, became Egypt’s second most powerful leader. When Grace operates, educational qualifications are thrown out. Fishermen become disciples, to the dismay of the religious elite. Grace instills hope in the hopeless, joy in the forlorn, and peace in the agitated. She has your back while she holds your heart. She transforms lament into a dancing melody. She is the warmth that accompanies light, and she is God’s gift to you forever.
Patricia P. Driscoll and Celia Straus wrote in Hidden Battle on Unseen Fronts, “As a society, we don’t take very good care of one another. Ours is a disposable culture: our children, our elders, our ill and infirm, our natural resources are often ignored, overlooked, forgotten or mistreated.” Did you know that respect for the elderly is tied in scripture to reverence for God? God did not make people obsolete, objects of derision or relics to be ignored or kept out of the way. We as a society have done this because collectively, we view feebleness and weakness as properties to be avoided. We don’t wish to be reminded of the last chapters or days of life before death. We want to be strong, healthy and admired. But we see life from such a limited and sadly vain vantage. God made life, and He made it with eternity in mind. When we disrespect the elderly, we disrespect what He created, which is never a good practice.
Meditation Daniel 5:26-28--This is the interpretation of the message: MENE means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. TEKEL means that you have been weighed in the balance and found deficient.PERES means that your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
When was the last time you sat beside a fire, alone, and able to think and meditate? The previous home owners left me a gift of numerous piles of dead branches all over the property. I guess they didn’t have time to burn anything but I still would label their actions a gift because they gave me plenty of reason to clear away brush piles and, in the process, burn. There is something mesmerizing (and therapeutic) about sitting next to a fire and watching it reduce large masses to smoldering ashes. No branch escapes. All that feel the hot fury of flame are engulfed and reduced to residue.
Dr. Gary Bredfeldt, author of Great Leader, Great Teacher, has some poignant observations to share about the character of leaders. He notes that values are valuable as principles, qualities or standards. Values represent leader beliefs that come from heartfelt commitment—that indicate emotional investment. They can be morally neutral and subjective and, as society increasingly becomes relativistic, values (which are not moral absolutes) gain greater favor. Values can be personalized and tied to race, gender or class.